Peshawar - The Afghan border at Torkham remained closed for the fourth consecutive day on Wednesday as people from all walks of life, including the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SCCI), urged the Afghan government to reopen the crossing and allow movement of the stranded trucks carrying various perishable items.
SCCI president Muhammad Ishaq expressed grave concern over the recent border closure, predicting massive losses to businesses. He claimed that long lines of 7,500 export and transit vehicles, carrying sugar and perishable goods had been halted at Torkham and urged the Afghan government to reconsider its decision and reopen the border.
According to the SCCI president, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) issued a quota for 45 days of sugar export, and 22 days had already passed. The border closure, he claimed, was causing massive financial losses for Pakistan- Afghan businesses.
According to Ishaq, the Pakistani government has explicitly directed that all available resources be used to promote Pak-Afghan commerce and transit trade.
Meanwhile, various marches and protests have been organised in Landikotal and Torkham to demand the reopening of the vital border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Negotiations with Afghan officials were ongoing, but it was unclear when Emarat-e-Islami would reopen the border with Pakistan. Labourers and transporters marched through Torkham town, chanting slogans of pro-free movement across the Torkham border.
Farman Khan Shinwari, the labour union’s president, and Qari Nazim Gul, the president of the customs agents union, both stated that both countries rely on each other and that the recent border closure has cost them millions of dollars.
Meanwhile, in Torkham, shopkeepers, truckers, bus drivers, and members of civic society organised a walk. They were waving white flags and demanding the reopening of the Torkham border. The Torkham Transporters Union’s head, Haji Azeemullah Shinwari, stated that the border blockade was unsustainable. He stated that if the Afghan government does not reopen the border, their operations will be forced to relocate to other towns in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, on the Peshawar-Torkham highway, hundreds of trucks carrying various items such as vegetables and fresh fruit were seen parked. Afghan officials closed the border four days ago after Pakistan refused entry to an Afghan patient seeking medical treatment in Peshawar. Following the exchange of gunfire, Afghan border police closed the border gate, injuring a Pakistani border guard as well.