Hundreds stranded after Pakistan-Afghanistan border closure
Islamabad/Kabul, Feb 21 (EFE).- Hundreds of trucks loaded with goods as well as Afghan nationals with legal documents were stranded on both sides of the border at Torkham crossing point on Tuesday as its closure entered into the third day.
The Taliban authorities in Afghanistan on Sunday closed down its biggest trading and pedestrian crossing point with Pakistan, citing failure to meet commitments by the Pakistani side at the border.
The closure of the gate caused problems for traders, transits, and Afghans seeking medical treatment in Pakistan or those seeking to meet relatives on either side of the border.
Many Afghans and Pakistani Pashtuns run businesses on both sides of the border.
“There is a long queue of trucks, trailers and people on both sides of the Torkham border who are awaiting permission to cross over,” a Pakistani security official, who asked not to be named, told EFE.
Another Pakistani security official revealed that this situation was caused by Pakistani border forces stopping the entry of “unnecessary” attendants accompanying Afghan patients seeking treatment in Pakistan.
“One Pakistani soldier was injured in the firing from Afghan Taliban forces,” the security official told EFE on Monday requesting anonymity.
According to Taliban officials, constructive discussions with the Pakistani side for reopening the crossing point was held but did not result in a solution.
“Beneficial discussions with Pakistani side are ongoing, and we hope the crossing point will soon reopen for transit and travelers,” Quraishi Badloon, information and culture director in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, told EFE.
People stranded on the border appealed to both Pakistani and Taliban authorities to reopen the border.
“I decided to take my mother to Islamabad but for two days the gate is closed and I am waiting while my mother needs urgent treatment,” Khalilullah Popal told EFE on Tuesday.
Besides the large crowds of people, hundreds of freight trucks – many of them with edible and perishable goods – remain queued up on both sides of the crossing.
“We know closing the gate creates problems for the people and transit, but the commitments from the Pakistani side regarding facilities for travelers, patients and transit were not provided,” said Badloon.
“Therefore the talks are ongoing to find the solution for the existing problems to reopen the gate soon,” he said.
Badloon had said on Monday that the gate was closed down under instructions from Kabul.
There has been no official word from the Pakistani military or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs yet.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have a 2,600km long porous border, which successive Afghan governments have refused to recognize as the international border, and called it the Durand Line. Skirmishes have often occurred along the border.
Pakistan has completed 90 percent work of erecting barbed wire along th border to avoid illegal crossing, especially by militants.
The country claims the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or the Pakistani Taliban, leadership is hiding in Afghanistan, which the Afghan Taliban refutes.
Videos circulating on social media show the wire has been broken at many places with people crossing the border without any hindrance.