PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN (AP) – The normal trade and movement of people between Pakistan and Afghanistan fully resumed yesterday after the two sides re-opened a key border crossing that was shut nearly a week ago by Afghanistan’s Taleban rulers, stranding people and thousands of trucks carrying food and essential items.
The Afghan embassy in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, announced the re-opening of the Torkham border yesterday on Twitter. Pakistani officials and Afghanistan’s Taleban-appointed administrator in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province also confirmed that the border crossing is open to passengers and trade.
The announcement sparked a wave of joy among those who had been waiting for the re-opening of the international trade route since last Sunday, when Afghanistan’s Taleban rulers closed the crossing.
The Taleban claimed Islamabad was not abiding by an agreement with Kabul to allow sick Afghan patients and their caretakers to cross into Pakistan without travel documents for medical care.
On Monday, Afghan Taleban forces and Pakistani border guards exchanged fire, wounding a Pakistani soldier. Since then, officials from the two sides were in talks to resolve the issue amid demands from people to immediately re-open the crossing.
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif and secret service chief Lieutenant General Anjum Nadeem travelled to Kabul on an unannounced but previously scheduled visit and met senior Taleban officials to discuss the closure and other issues.
After the visit, the crossing was briefly re-opened by the Afghan Taleban to allow some of the thousands of trucks that lined up for days at the border – many with vegetables, fruits and other perishable food items – to cross over and ease the backlog. But Pakistan shut the border on Thursday, saying it needed an explanation from the Afghan side about the abrupt closure of the border last Sunday.
Pakistani and Taleban officials on Friday held talks and finally agreed to re-open the border.