Friday, February 24, 2023

After a brief reopening, the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing has been closed

Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing shut after brief reopening

 Pakistan's Peshawar: According to officials, Pakistan closed a crucial border crossing with Afghanistan just hours after it reopened on Thursday. This was the latest development in the contentious shutdown of the Torkham junction that began earlier this week.

The issue of the crossing, which is an important route for trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has exacerbated tensions between the two nations, which share a troubled and volatile border.

The Taliban in Afghanistan closed the crossing on Sunday, claiming that Islamabad was breaking an agreement with Kabul to allow Afghan patients and their caregivers to enter Pakistan without medical travel documents. A Pakistani soldier was injured in a shootout between Afghan Taliban forces and border guards on Monday.

Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Pakistan's defense minister, and Lieutenant General Anjum Nadeem, the head of the secret service, traveled to Kabul on Wednesday to meet with senior Taliban officials to discuss the border issue.

Some of the thousands of trucks that had been lining up at the border for days, many carrying vegetables, fruits, and other perishable food items, were able to cross over on Thursday morning after Torkham was reopened by Afghan Taliban forces.

The Afghan embassy in Pakistan announced the reopening via Twitter, and truck drivers on the Pakistani side of the Khyber Pass were overjoyed to see their vehicles begin to move.

However, hours later, the crossing was closed. Pakistan was unable to make the border crossing "fully functional due to administrative issues," according to Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He didn't say anything.

It took some time for other officials in Islamabad to respond.

On Twitter, the media center in Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province stated, "The Torkham gate has been closed by the Pakistani side after it was opened today by the officials of the Islamic Emirate."

The Torkham border crossing is a crucial commercial artery and trade route for Pakistan to Central Asian nations. However, Pakistan has also accused the Afghan Taliban of providing sanctuary to Pakistani terrorists whose cross-border attacks have increased violence in Pakistan.

According to the Afghan Taliban administration, the Pakistani delegation was informed at the meeting on Wednesday that Pakistan was responsible for providing all "necessary facilities" for travelers at Torkham and Spin Boldak, a further south crossing, as well as special facilities for the transportation of patients requiring emergency medical care. Kabul stated that the Pakistani side had promised to resolve these issues quickly.

Along the Afghan-Pakistan border, shootouts, closures, and cross-border fire are common.

The Pakistani delegation to Kabul, according to Pakistan's Foreign Ministry, also discussed "the growing threat of terrorism in the region" during Wednesday's talks, particularly the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tahreek-e Taliban-Pakistan or TTP, and the Islamic State group.

The Pakistani delegation demanded that the Taliban stop Pakistani Taliban militants from launching cross-border attacks on Pakistan from within Afghanistan, senior security officials told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Officials stated that the request is urgent due to the Pakistani Taliban's alleged intention to launch their "spring offensive" in March. Because they were not permitted to speak to the media, the officials agreed to remain anonymous.

Pakistan has recently stated that if the Taliban administration fails to rein in the TTP, it has the right to target TTP refugee camps in Afghanistan. This raises the possibility of additional cross-border violence.

While the Afghan Taliban seized power more than a year ago as U.S. and NATO troops withdrew from the country after 20 years of war, the Pakistani Taliban are allied with them.

The TTP has increased its attacks in Pakistan, where security forces frequently conduct raids on their hideouts, as a result of the Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan. Police said that security forces killed six Pakistani Taliban militants on Thursday in the most recent raid in the Lakki Marwat district in the northwest.

The military claimed that eight insurgents were killed when troops in Pakistan's volatile southwestern Baluchistan province raided a militant hideout in the district of Kech on Thursday. Small groups demanding independence have waged a low-level insurgency for years in Baluchistan. Violence in the province has persisted despite the government's claim that it has subdued the insurgency.

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