Tuesday Feb 21, 2023
PESHAWAR: A key border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan remained closed for a third day, with thousands of goods vehicles stuck and businesses facing losses as officials from both sides try to broker a solution.
Taliban authorities on Sunday closed Torkham, the main point of transit for travellers and goods between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan.
"The closure of the border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan has been causing losses to traders of the two countries. There are long queues of heavy trucks stranded on both sides of the border," said Zia Ul Haq Sarhadi, director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
He said up to 6,000 trucks loaded with goods had been stuck on both sides since Sunday.
The reason for the closure was not entirely clear, though officials on both sides have said they were in discussions to resolve the issue.
The government in Islamabad has not commented publicly on the matter, Reuters said. A Pakistani official source said they had not been told the reason ahead of the closure.
Sarhadi said Afghanistan relied on goods from Pakistan for much of its needs and many trucks were also destined for Central Asia using Afghanistan as a transit point.
"The traders and particularly those supplying fresh food items such as fruits and vegetables are facing losses as trucks are stranded on the way for the past three days," he said.
Some trucks, he further said, had been diverted to another, smaller border crossing, but traders were worried about the security of truck drivers travelling to that region.
The development came after the Afghan authorities on Sunday suddenly closed the border with Pakistan at Torkham after Pakistani authorities asked the attendants of an Afghan patient to come with legal travel documents for entry into the country.
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."
The decision to strengthen security measures by mandating Afghan citizens to carry travel documents was made following the Peshawar police lines suicide attack.
A government official speaking to The News said, “Hopefully the border will be reopened by Tuesday (today)."
However, till the filing of this report, the border remains closed.