Afghan border reopens after six days

Week-long border closure causes massive losses to both Pakistani and Afghan traders and transporters

PESHAWAR    -    The impasse was finally broken on Satur­day as Pakistan and Afghanistan reopened the Torkham border, which remained shut for six days, authorities have said.

The border was shut by the Afghan Taliban a few days ago when they also fired shots injuring a security man on the Pakistani side over the issue of not permitting an Afghan patient to enter Pakistan for medical care due to lack of travel documents. Some Afghan sourc­es initially declared that the border clo­sure was a decision of the Afghan Tal­iban officials supervising the border and not the official decision of the Is­lamic Emirate of Afghanistan. But how the Afghan Taliban officials decided to shut the key international border with­out taking their leadership into confi­dence was baffling for many since the war-ravaged country has deep inter­ests in Pakistan. However, both sides pathed things up finally. A customs offi­cer, Tehmash Khan, told journalists that they reopened the border after receiv­ing directives from Islamabad. He said that over 5,000 trucks had been stuck during the one-week restriction of tran­sit across the Torkham border.

He stated that despite the large num­ber of cars at the Torkham border cross­ing, they were able to accommodate pas­sengers who were waiting to continue their journey across the border. Customs authorities said that owing to the bor­der restriction, around $5000 million in commerce could not be conducted with Afghanistan in the previous week. He stated that a minimum of Rs400 million in commodities are exported to Afghani­stan over the Torkham border every day. The route from Ali Masjid up to Landiko­tal was congested due to huge number of vehicles that began their journey af­ter several days of blockade. Drivers and travellers rejoiced when they learned of the border’s reopening. They expressed gratitude to Pakistan for opening the border to transporters.

Torkham Customs officers stated that they had prepared four lines of loaded vehicles to enter Afghanistan but were unable to file goods declarations (GDs) owing to an internet outage. According to them, more than a hundred trucks carrying import items entered Pakistan over the Torkham border in the small hours of Saturday. He said the traffic jam at the Torkham border also slowed vehicular movement at Torkham. Au­thorities stated that they had dis­patched more personnel to oversee the vehicle movements in order to han­dle the clearance paperwork. The offic­es would be open 24 hours a day and seven days a week to allow all stranded trucks to reach their destinations.

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