The recent week-long closure of the Torkham crossing has had a significant impact on the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan, particularly in terms of their trade ties. This closure has not only disrupted trade but has also caused considerable hardship for individuals seeking to cross the border.
The conflict began on September 6, when both sides engaged in hostilities. According to Pakistani authorities, the Afghans initiated the conflict by constructing an unauthorised structure within Pakistani territory. When questioned about this, Afghan troops responded with gunfire. Despite efforts to resolve the issue through diplomatic channels, the meeting between both sides’ authorities failed. Consequently, people wishing to cross the border found themselves stranded, with their vehicles halted and entry denied.
This dispute has resulted in significant economic losses, amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars, particularly in perishable goods such as fruits and vegetables from Afghanistan. These commodities are unable to reach their intended markets and are wilting in the hot weather.
Taliban representatives have commented on Pakistan’s heavy reliance on exports due to its current situation, exacerbating the issue. It is essential for the Afghan Taliban to exercise caution when making such statements about Pakistan. Instead, they should focus on resolving the dispute with Pakistan to improve relations between the two nations. This would not only facilitate trade but also ensure ease of cross-border movement for individuals.
Pakistan’s aspirations for robust trade relationships with Central Asia can only be realised through cooperation with neighbouring Afghanistan. Both nations should prioritise resolving their differences and fostering a mutually beneficial partnership, ultimately leading to prosperous trade and greater ease for people crossing the border.