Key trade crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan reopens

Torkham border. (Photo/Reuters)

Pakistan and Afghanistan have reopened a key trade crossing, officials on both sides said, after a row over travel papers as Islamabad imposes tighter restrictions on cross-border movements.

A Pakistan border official, who asked not to be named, confirmed the reopening of the Torkham border after negotiations between Islamabad and Kabul, allowing hundreds of waiting trucks to cross.

"It was agreed during the discussions that until 31 March, Pakistani and Afghan drivers can cross the border without a visa and passport," he said.

"However, starting on 1 April, both a visa and passport will be mandatory."

Afghan Torkham official Abdul Jabbar Hikmat confirmed lorries were allowed to cross again on Tuesday "without the need for passports and visas."

The Torkham border closure since January 12 came after Islamabad imposed tighter controls requiring drivers from both sides to have visas and passports — documents many Afghans do not have.

Rooting out militants

Ties between the two countries have increasingly frayed in recent months, with Islamabad accusing the Taliban-led Afghan government of failing to root out militants staging attacks in Pakistan from their soil.

Kabul has always rejected the allegations.

Pakistan's casualties from armed groups hit a six-year high in 2023 with more than 1,500 civilians, security forces and militants killed, according to Islamabad's Center for Research and Security Studies.

The biggest militant threat to Pakistan comes from the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terror group. The TTP is a separate group which is loosely affiliated with the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan officials said tighter restrictions on trade and on-off border closures are a pressure tactic to get the Taliban-led Afghan government to work with Pakistan on security.

"Pakistan desires Afghanistan to adopt a tough stance against the TTP," a senior provincial government official in Peshawar city who asked not to be named said.

"If they do not, the trade route will be intermittently closed for various reasons."


Source: TRT