Pakistan

Torkham Border Springs Back to Life After 10-Day Hiatus

The Torkham border crossing, a bustling gateway between Pakistan and Afghanistan, has reopened after a 10-day closure, stemming from tensions due to a border dispute. This key link, dormant for over a week, saw a surge of activity on Friday, as both vehicular and pedestrian traffic resumed their trans-border movements.

 

As hundreds of travelers gathered at the immigration section, hoping to enter Afghanistan, there was a palpable sense of relief. Irshad Khan Mohammad, the assistant commissioner of Pakistan's Khyber district, informed AFP that trucks are being cleared for movement, and Afghan citizens are being allowed to enter their homeland after completing the required immigration procedures.

 

This reopening is a much-anticipated turn of events following the September 6th closure after a clash between the security forces of both nations. The confrontation, which resulted in injuries to a Frontier Corps soldier, was initiated due to the interim Afghanistan government's alleged "illegal construction" of a bunker on the Pakistani side of the border.

 

Pakistan's Foreign Office highlighted its stance on the matter on September 11, firmly stating that any structures built by the interim Afghan government on its soil are violations of its sovereignty.

 

The significance of the Torkham crossing cannot be understated. It stands as the primary conduit for trade and human movement between the neighboring countries, connected by a 2,600-kilometre frontier, meandering through the rugged terrains of mountains and valleys. The closure brought with it hardships for traders on both sides, with huge losses in perishable goods. Afghan travelers also faced missed medical appointments and flights from Pakistan.

 

Just a day prior to the reopening, a customs official had hinted to Geo News about the impending resumption of border activities. The decision to bring life back to the Torkham border was cemented after a pivotal meeting between Afghanistan's Acting Foreign Minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, and the Head of the Pakistan Mission in Kabul, Ubaid Ur Rehman Nizamani. During this discussion, Afghan authorities gave their assurance that their soil would not be misused against Pakistan.

 

However, memories of the mortar shell attacks that preceded the border closure remain fresh. An official stationed at Torkham recollected that several mortar shells, originating from the Afghan side, landed at key official sites. Thankfully, despite a few close calls, no casualties were reported.

 

During this 10-day deadlock, many found themselves trapped at the border. Travelers, including patients, women, children, and even trucks loaded with goods, awaited an end to the standoff. The escalated tensions also resulted in the temporary closure of numerous government and private offices as a safety measure.

 

The Torkham border crossing's reopening is not just a story of resumed trade and movement. It's a testament to the resilient spirit of two nations, striving to move past their differences for the collective good.

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