Tuesday Feb 21, 2023
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Afghan forces injure Pakistani soldier at Torkham border

A Pakistani soldier stands guard along the border fence outside an outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan, Pakistan. — Reuters/File
A Pakistani soldier stands guard along the border fence outside an outpost on the border with Afghanistan in North Waziristan, Pakistan. — Reuters/File
  • Injured soldier stated to be in stable condition.
  • Pakistan responded with heavy gunfire, no casualties reported.
  • Backdoor talks in process to defuse strain between two countries.

PESHAWAR: Afghan border security forces opened fire on Monday which caused injury to a Pakistani soldier at Ayub checkpoint, located at the hilltop near the Torkham border as Afghanistan kept the border closed on the second day with Pakistan, according to the senior security and government official, The News reported on Tuesday.

The soldier was immediately provided medical assistance at the hospital where he was stated to be in stable condition.

Pakistani side responded with heavy gunfire on suspected places from where the attack was initiated however, there was no information of any casualties to the Afghan side.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid avoided commenting on the border situation.

On Sunday, the Afghan authorities suddenly closed the border with Pakistan at Torkham after Pakistani authorities allowed an Afghan patient to enter the country, but asked the attendants to come with legal travel documents.

According to government officials and residents of the Torkham border, firing between the security forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan lasted for half an hour.

A senior government official at the Torkham border said: "The Afghan border officials made it an issue, saying Pakistani authorities should allow the patients and their attendants without visas or legal travel documents to enter Pakistan for treatment in Peshawar or elsewhere."

On the request for anonymity, he said officials on the border tried to convince the Afghan authorities but they didn't listen to them, adding that they did not allow the vehicles to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan or vice versa.

Several Afghan people with their legal documents along with the hundreds of trucks loaded with goods were forced to stay on both sides of the border after the closure.

The border remained closed till the filing of this report, though senior officials told The News that backdoor channels were in process to defuse the strain between the two neighbouring countries and open the border.

"Some senior officials of the two countries are using backdoor channels to resolve this issue. Hopefully, the border will be reopened by Tuesday," a government official said. 

According to official sources, Pakistani authorities had made it mandatory for the Afghans to have legal travel documents for bringing their patients to the country for treatment.

They said a hospital has been set up on the border where the patients are properly assessed by the doctors and if they require treatment then they are referred to the hospitals in Peshawar. Critical patients don't need any visa or legal travel documents.

The decision on strengthening security measures was made after the Peshawar police lines suicide attack. There are, however, widespread allegations that certain people in Afghanistan are made to pay for entering Pakistan even without legal documents. 

The residents of Torkham said they had been fearing the backlash of the tense situation on the border for the past few days.

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