The Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border closure, labeled “temporary” by the Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday, hinges on forthcoming developments for a reopening decision. This closure resulted from a September 6 incident where a gun battle erupted between Pakistani and Afghan border forces, injuring two individuals, including a Frontier Corps (FC) official. Pakistan attributed the conflict’s origin to the Afghan side, citing their construction of a prohibited checkpoint near the main border crossing as the catalyst for the two-hour midday firefight.
Without prior consultation with Pakistan, Afghan authorities initiated the construction of an additional checkpoint, known as the Larram Post, atop a small hill near the border. A recent meeting between Pakistani and Afghan border security officials on September 11 failed to yield an agreement for reopening the border. The day before, political activists, transporters, traders, Customs clearing agents, laborers, and local organization representatives organized a protest demonstration to voice their dissatisfaction with the prolonged Torkham border closure.
The protestors, decrying the Torkham border closure’s impact on bilateral trade and manual labor, threatened an indefinite sit-in at Zero Point if the border didn’t reopen within two days.
In a recent weekly press briefing, FO Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to the Afghanistan and Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement signed in 2020, highlighting Pakistan’s goodwill in facilitating trade access for its landlocked neighbor.
Pakistan aims to address concerns related to the misuse of the transit trade agreement with the Afghan government, focusing on goods intended for Afghanistan being redirected to Pakistan, resulting in unpaid customs duties and taxes. Baloch stressed the importance of upholding the bilateral trade provisions with Afghanistan.
Regarding the border closure, Baloch expressed Pakistan’s concerns about security threats from Afghanistan, citing the September 6 incident in Chitral, where border troops thwarted militants attempting to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan, resulting in casualties on both sides.
To counter terrorist threats, the FO urged Afghan interim authorities to secure Afghan territory and vowed to take legal action against Afghan refugees with terrorist affiliations.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s Chargé d’Affaires in Afghanistan, Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani, met Afghan FM Amir Khan Muttaqi in Kabul. Their discussions covered recent terror incidents, the Torkham border closure, Afghan migrant detentions in Pakistan, and transit restrictions on Afghan traders in Karachi. Both leaders committed to immediate solutions and preventing future incidents.