The main crossing to the river Afghanistan-Pakistan border It remained closed for the third day in a row on Tuesday, officials said, after Afghan Taliban rulers earlier this week closed a key trade route and engaged in a firefight with Pakistani border guards.
The closure has increased tensions between the two neighboring countries and caused concern among merchants, for whom the Torkham crossing is a key trading artery. Trucks with various goods also travel to the countries of Central Asia from Pakistan, through the Torkham checkpoint and Afghanistan.
On the Pakistani side of the border, in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, many traders on Tuesday watched their trucks loaded with soon-to-be spoiled fresh food and waited for the crossing to open.
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The Taliban closed Torkham on Sunday, angered by Pakistan’s alleged refusal to allow Afghan patients and their caregivers to enter Pakistan for medical care without travel documents. On Monday, Taliban fighters and Pakistani guards shot each other. There were no reports of casualties on either side.
According to Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, Director in Pakistani-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, about 7,000 trucks loaded with a variety of goods, including perishable fruits and vegetables, got stuck and lined up waiting on the Pakistani side.
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He added that hundreds of Pakistanis with valid travel documents were also waiting near Torkham for the crossing to open. “This creates problems for traders on both sides.”
Cars were also waiting on the other side of the border, in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Nangarhar, but the Taliban did not comment on the matter.
Siddiqullah Quraishi, a Taliban-appointed spokesman for Nangahar’s information and culture department, said Pakistan was not honoring its “commitments, so the checkpoint was closed.” He did not elaborate, but advised Afghans to refrain from traveling to the crossing until further notice.
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Cover-ups, cross-border fire and gunfights are common on the Afghan-Pakistani border. Each side has closed Torkham in the past, as well as the Chaman checkpoint in southwest Pakistan, for different reasons.
The Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021. like USA and NATO troops were withdrawn from the country after 20 years of war. Like the rest of the world, Pakistan still has not recognized the Afghan Taliban government. The international community is wary of the tough measures that the Taliban have taken since they came to power, especially in regards to restricting the rights of women and minorities.