High-level Pakistani delegation visits Afghanistan amid border tensions
Kabul, Feb 22 (EFE).- A Pakistani delegation led by Defense Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday traveled to Afghanistan to meet top Taliban officials, even as the main border crossing between the two countries remains closed and diplomatic tensions were running high.
The delegation met Afghanistan’s deputy prime minister for economic affairs Abdul Ghani Baradar in an attempt to restore bilateral ties, the Taliban minister’s office said in a statement.
“Afghanistan and Pakistan are two neighboring countries and should have good relations with each other. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan insists on the development of commercial and economic relations with Pakistan,” the statement read.
Baradar urged Islamabad to ensure “necessary facilities” for the transit of Afghan citizens on the borders, along with emergency services for patients seeking medical attention in the neighboring country, at the Torkham and Spin Boldak crossings.
Torkham, the main border crossing between the two countries, remained closed on Wednesday for the fourth day in a row after the Taliban shut it down on Sunday.
According to Islamabad’s version of events, Pakistani border authorities had tried to limit the entry of “unnecessary” attendants along with patients entering the country from Afghanistan, which triggered an exchange of fire between the two militaries, injuring one Pakistani soldier.
Kabul has accused Pakistan of not fulfilling its commitments over the transit of Afghan patients, who are granted priority medical visas due to the lack of health facilities in Afghanistan.
“The Pakistani side assured (…) of solving the mentioned issues,” Baradar said on Wednesday, even as thousands of people and trucks remain stuck on both sides of the border.
The deputy PM also called for separating economic affairs from political and security questions, in the backdrop of Pakistan complaining of rising insurgency within its borders, mainly due to attacks by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan – a Pakistani offshoot of the Taliban – since the Islamists seized Kabul in August 2021.
Clashes on the Afghan-Pakistan border had been common even before the Taliban’s ascent to power.
At least six civilians died when Afghan Taliban forces opened fire on the Pakistani side at the Chaman crossing using heavy weapons in December last year. EFE