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Pakistan-Afghan Border Crossing Shut Just Hours After It Restored

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(CTN NEWS) – PESHAWAR – According to officials, Pakistan closed a crucial border crossing with Afghanistan just hours after it had been restored on Thursday.

This is the most recent development in the contentious closure of the Torkham junction, which began earlier this week.

The problem with the crossing, a vital commerce route for both Pakistan and Afghanistan, has contributed to rising tensions between the two nations, who share a problematic and unstable border.

The crossing was shut down on Sunday by the Taliban government in Afghanistan, who said Islamabad had broken a deal with Kabul to permit Afghan patients and their carers to enter Pakistan for medical treatment without a passport.

A Pakistani soldier was hurt during Monday’s gunfight between Afghan Taliban fighters and Pakistani border guards.

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Stranded trucks loaded with supplies for Afghanistan, park in a terminal along side on a highway after Afghan Taliban rulers closed a key border crossing point Torkham, in Landi Kotal, an area in Pakistan’s district Khyber along the Afghan border, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. (AP Photo/Qazi Rauf)

Torkham Border Reopened By Afghan Taliban

Khawaja Mohammad Asif, the defense minister of Pakistan, and Lt. Gen. Anjum Nadeem, the head of its secret agency, traveled to Kabul on Wednesday to meet with top Taliban figures to address the border issue.

Torkham was reopened by Afghan Taliban forces on Thursday morning, allowing some of the thousands of trucks that had been waiting in line for days at the border to cross and reducing the backlog.

Many of these trucks were carrying fresh produce, fruits, and other perishable foods.

The announcement of the reopening was tweeted by the Afghan Embassy in Pakistan, and truckers on the Pakistani side celebrated when their rigs started traveling through the Khyber Pass.

But hours later, the crossing was closed.

The joint chamber of commerce and industry between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s director, Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, claimed that Pakistan was unable to make the border crossing “completely functioning due to administrative obstacles.” He said nothing more.

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Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs, right, speaks with Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, during a meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Deputy Prime Minister Office via AP)

Torkham Border As Pakistan’s Main Trade Gateway

Other government representatives in Islamabad were unavailable for comment right away.

The media center in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province posted on Twitter that “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 serves as Pakistan’s main trade gateway and commercial thoroughfare to the Central Asian nations.

But, Islamabad has also charged that Pakistani terrorists who have carried out cross-border assaults that have increased violence in Pakistan have sought refuge with the Afghan Taliban.

The Pakistani delegation, according to the Afghan Taliban government, was informed during the meeting on Wednesday that it was Pakistan’s responsibility to provide all “necessary facilities” for travelers at Torkham and Spin Boldak.

A second crossing further south, as well as unique facilities for the transportation of patients in need of emergency medical care.

According to Kabul, the Pakistani side pledged to rapidly fix these issues.

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Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs, center, speaks with Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, left, during a meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Deputy Prime Minister Minister Office via AP)

Afghan-Pakistan Border Recent Closures

The Afghan-Pakistan border frequently experiences closures, cross-border shootings, and shootouts.

According to Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry, its delegation to Kabul also brought up “the growing threat of terrorism in the region” during their discussions on Wednesday.

This threat was specifically brought up by the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tahreek-e Taliban-Pakistan or TTP, and the Islamic State group.

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

The demand is urgent, according to the officials, as the Pakistani Taliban are rumored to be planning to launch their “spring attack” in March. Due to their lack of media authorization, the officials talked on the condition of anonymity.

Pakistan has lately threatened to attack TTP safe havens in Afghanistan if the Taliban government fails to control the militants, raising the possibility of additional cross-border hostilities.

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Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs, right, speaks with Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, during a meeting in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (Deputy Prime Minister Office via AP)

The Afghan Taliban, who took control more than a year ago when U.S. and NATO soldiers began to leave the country after 20 years of war, is a distinct organization that is affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban.

The TTP has increased its attacks in recent months in Pakistan, where security forces frequently search their hideouts, as a result of the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.

Police reported that six Pakistani Taliban insurgents were killed by security troops on Thursday during the most recent raid in the northwest district of Lakki Marwat.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, troops in Pakistan’s volatile Baluchistan region stormed a militant stronghold in the Kech area and killed eight rebels, according to the military.

Years of low-level insurrection by small organizations calling for independence have been witnessed in Baluchistan. Violence has continued in the province despite claims by the government that the insurgency has been put down.

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Alishba Waris is an independent journalist working for CTN News. She brings a wealth of experience and a keen eye for detail to her reporting. With a knack for uncovering the truth, Waris isn't afraid to ask tough questions and hold those in power accountable. Her writing is clear, concise, and cuts through the noise, delivering the facts readers need to stay informed. Waris's dedication to ethical journalism shines through in her hard-hitting yet fair coverage of important issues.

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