AP

Pakistan-Afghan border crossing shut after brief reopening

Feb 23, 2023, 7:59 AM | Updated: 8:56 pm

Stranded trucks loaded with supplies for Afghanistan, line up on a highway after Afghan Taliban rul...

Stranded trucks loaded with supplies for Afghanistan, line up on a highway after Afghan Taliban rulers closed a key border crossing point Torkham, in Landi Kotal, an area in Pakistan's district Khyber along Afghan border, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023. The main crossing on the Afghan-Pakistan border remained shut Tuesday for the third straight day, officials said, after Afghanistan's Taliban rulers earlier this week closed the key trade route and exchanged fire with Pakistani border guards. (AP Photo/Qazi Rauf)

(AP Photo/Qazi Rauf)

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan shut down a key border crossing with Afghanistan just hours after it was reopened on Thursday, officials said, the latest twist in the controversial closure of the Torkham junction that started earlier this week.

The issue of the crossing, a key trade route for both Afghanistan and Pakistan, has added to increasing tensions between the two countries, which share a troubled and volatile boundary.

Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers on Sunday closed the crossing, claiming Islamabad was not abiding by an agreement with Kabul to allow Afghan patients and their caretakers to cross into Pakistan without travel documents for medical care. On Monday, Afghan Taliban forces and Pakistani border guards exchanged fire, which wounded a Pakistani soldier.

On Wednesday, Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, and secret service chief, Lt. Gen. Anjum Nadeem, travelled to Kabul and met senior Taliban officials to discuss the border issue.

On Thursday morning, Torkham was reopened by Afghan Taliban forces, allowing some of the thousands of trucks that had lined up for days at the border — many with vegetables, fruits and other perishable food items — to cross over and ease the backlog.

The Afghan Embassy in Pakistan tweeted the news of the reopening and on the Pakistani side, truck drivers rejoiced as their vehicles began moving along the Khyber Pass.

However, the crossing closed hours later. Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that Pakistan was unable to make the border crossing “fully functional because of administrative issues.” He did not explain.

Other officials in Islamabad were not immediately available for comment.

“The Torkham gate has been closed by the Pakistani side after it was opened today by the officials of the Islamic Emirate,” the media center in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province said on Twitter.

For Pakistan, the Torkham border crossing is a vital commercial artery and a trade route to Central Asian countries. But Islamabad has also accused the Afghan Taliban of providing sanctuary for Pakistani militants whose cross-border attacks have led to a spike in violence in Pakistan.

The Afghan Taliban administration has said the Pakistani delegation was told during Wednesday’s meeting that it was up to Pakistan to provide all the “necessary facilities” for travelers at Torkham and also at Spin Boldak, another crossing further south, as well as special facilities for the transportation of patients needing emergency medical care. The Pakistani side promised to resolve these matters quickly, Kabul said.

Closures, cross-border fire and shootouts are common along the Afghan-Pakistan border.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said its delegation to Kabul also raised during Wednesday’s talks “the growing threat of terrorism in the region,” particularly by the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tahreek-e Taliban-Pakistan or TTP, and the Islamic State group.

On Thursday, senior security officials told The Associated Press that the Pakistani delegation demanded the Taliban prevent Pakistani Taliban militants from launching cross-border attacks on Pakistan from within Afghanistan.

The demand, the officials said, is urgent as the Pakistani Taliban allegedly plan to launch their “spring offensive” in March. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Pakistan has recently warned that it has the right to target TTP sanctuaries in Afghanistan if the Taliban administration fails to rein in the militants, increasing the prospect of more cross-border violence.

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group, but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power more than a year ago as the U.S. and NATO troops withdrew from the country after 20 years of war.

The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has emboldened the TTP, which in recent months stepped up attacks in Pakistan, where security forces often raid their hideouts. In the latest raid in the northwestern district of Lakki Marwat, security forces on Thursday killed six Pakistani Taliban militants, police said.

Also Thursday, troops in Pakistan’s volatile southwestern Baluchistan province, in the district of Kech, raided a militant hideout, killing eight insurgents, the military said. Baluchistan has for years witnessed a low-level insurgency by small groups demanding independence. Although the government says it has quelled the insurgency, violence in the province has persisted.

___

Faiez reported from Islamabad. Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this story.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

A woman pauses while shopping at a Kohl's store in Clifton, N.J., Jan. 26, 2024. On Thursday, Feb. ...

Associated Press

Federal Reserve’s preferred inflation gauge picked up last month in sign of still-elevated prices

An inflation gauge favored by the Federal Reserve increased in January, the latest sign that the slowdown in U.S. consumer price increases is occurring unevenly from month to month.

10 hours ago

This undated image provided by Mikel Desmond shows his brother Marcus Tessier, who turned up in Dem...

Associated Press

Missing teen with autism found in New Mexico, about 200 miles away from his Arizona home

A missing teen with autism has been found in New Mexico — about 200 miles away from his home in southern Arizona.

11 hours ago

A newly released report on last year’s fatal crash involving a pickup truck and a group of bicycl...

Associated Press

Report suggests steering of vehicle that caused fatal Goodyear bicycle crash worked fine

A new report on last year’s fatal Goodyear bicycle crash has cast doubts about the driver’s claim the vehicle’s steering locked up.

1 day ago

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

3 days ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

3 days ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Midwestern University

Midwestern University Clinics: transforming health care in the valley

Midwestern University, long a fixture of comprehensive health care education in the West Valley, is also a recognized leader in community health care.

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

Pakistan-Afghan border crossing shut after brief reopening