After Failed Talks, Busiest Border Crossing Between Afghanistan And Pakistan Remains Shut


(RFE/RL) — Taliban and Pakistani officials have failed to agree on reopening the busiest border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan following its closure last week after Islamabad imposed a requirement for passports and visas for Afghan drivers.

“Yesterday, our meeting with the Pakistani border officials ended without bearing any results, and the gate remains closed,” Mullah Adil, the spokesman for the Taliban governor in Nangarhar, told RFE/RL’s Radio Azadi on January 16.

The Torkham border crossing links Pakistan’s western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province to Nangahar, an eastern Afghan province, through the historic Khyber Pass.

Khan Jan Alekozai, a senior official of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, says the border closure is causing huge commercial losses in both countries.

“Up to 400 vehicles on both sides are carrying oranges and tangerines, damaging farmers and businesses in both countries,” he said.

Stranded truckers say they have no food or water to wash themselves and are urging Islamabad to show some leniency.

“I am carrying potatoes which will rot soon,” Abdul Wali told Radio Mashaal. “They should at least allow the stranded trucks carrying perishable food.”

Alekozai added that Islamabad has also shut the minor border crossing of Dand-e Pathan and Kharlachi, Ghulam Khan. Angor Adda and Chaman, the second-largest border crossing, has been shut for over two months.

The Torkham border crossing closure follows a visit last week to Kabul by senior Pakistani Islamist politician Maulana Fazlur Rehman. His weeklong visit, which included a meeting with the Taliban’s supreme leader in Afghanistan, Haibatullah Akhundzada, was an attempt to revive strained ties between the erstwhile allies.

Since October, Pakistan has expelled more than half a million undocumented Afghans over the Taliban’s failure to rein in the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also called the Pakistani Taliban. Islamabad blames the group for escalating attacks on security forces and accuses the Taliban-led government of giving TTP militants shelter. Pakistani officials claim TTP attacks have killed more than 2,000 Pakistanis since the Taliban’s return to power in August 2021.

Pakistan is seeking to unilaterally impose regulated cross-border movement on Afghans and ethnic Pashtuns living along the shared 19th-century Durand Line border between the two countries.

The move has been met by intense backlash from Kabul and the Pashtun minority communities affected by the border closure.

Angor Adda and Birmal, a smaller border crossing linking Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Lower South Waziristan district to Afghanistan’s southeastern province of Paktika, has been intermittently shut for more than two months.

Members of the local Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, who live on both side of the border, are demanding unrestricted travel and improved trade facilities.

Islamabad’s new policy to rescind their century-old rights to cross the border using just their identity documents has rattled other Pashtun communities.

In Chaman, hundreds of thousands of traders and porters have been protesting the imposition of travel documents since October 21. Chaman is a town in the southwestern Balochistan Province, and it borders the Afghan town of Spin Boldak in the southern province of Kandahar.

Ghosullah, a protest leader in Chaman, says they will turn their sit-in protest into a hunger strike if Islamabad fails to meet their demands by January 31.

But Jan Achakzai, the provincial information minister in Balochistan, said Islamabad will implement its decision requiring everyone crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to have travel documents.


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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