Islamabad-Kabul discuss Torkham border issue

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The Torkham border crossing remained closed for a second consecutive day on Thursday following clashes between Pakistani and Afghan border forces. The closure led to a backlog of trucks loaded with goods at the main transit point between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan. The shutdown began on Wednesday when a gun battle erupted between border forces, with both sides blaming each other for the conflict.

Sources in the border region say that security forces were preventing anyone from advancing beyond the Michni checkpoint, which offers a high vantage point overlooking the border crossing near the Landi Kotal bazaar. Offices and residential quarters near the crossing were evacuated, and transporters were instructed to halt their movement toward the border.

Landi Kotal’s assistant commissioner Irshad Momand stated that the issue was being addressed at a higher diplomatic level due to its global significance. While the situation at Torkham remained stable, cross-border movement remained suspended until further notice.

Trucks loaded with various goods, particularly perishable items like fruits and vegetables, returned to Landi Kotal or Peshawar due to uncertainty about the border’s reopening. Afghan families stranded in the area received hospitality from locals, and there were reports of authorities refusing to allow the transfer of bodies across the closed border.

Authorities from both countries were reportedly working to determine the cause of the clash, according to a spokesman for the Taliban-led police in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, where the crossing is located. This closure severely affected trade, with hundreds of trucks laden with goods stranded and significant losses incurred by traders, as stated by Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The closure also disrupted trade flow from the Karachi port.