Border dispute strands thousands of trucks at Afghanistan-Pakistan crossing

Border points closed following a dispute over demands for drivers from both sides to have visas and passports

By AFP

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Goods carrier trucks parked along a street wait to enter Pakistan, near the Torkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan. — AFP
Goods carrier trucks parked along a street wait to enter Pakistan, near the Torkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan. — AFP

Published: Mon 15 Jan 2024, 6:50 PM

Thousands of trucks were stranded at the busiest frontier crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan on Monday, Afghan officials said, days after border points were closed to trade in the latest row over document rules for commercial vehicle drivers.

Crossings between the two countries have been temporarily shut in recent months after Islamabad last year launched a massive operation against undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan and tightened document requirements for Afghans entering the country.

The Torkham crossing was closed to trade vehicles on Friday night, border officials said, with around 3,000 trucks stranded on both sides of the border as of Monday, the co-chairman of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Khan Jan Alakozai, told AFP.

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This "has not only inflicted losses on traders from both countries but has also resulted in an increase in market prices, as most of the cargo consists of food items that will perish if the crossing remains closed", he said.

Both sides blamed the other for the latest shutdown at the Torkham crossing, which was extended to other border points since Friday.

The dispute centred on demands for drivers from either side to have visas and passports, a document many Afghans do not have.

Border security personnel of Afghanistan and Pakistan stand guard at the zero point Torkham border crossing between the two countries, in Nangarhar province. — AFP
Border security personnel of Afghanistan and Pakistan stand guard at the zero point Torkham border crossing between the two countries, in Nangarhar province. — AFP

A long line of trucks piled high with goods snaked down the road from Torkham on Monday afternoon, an AFP photographer saw.

A Pakistan customs official said on Monday some 450 trucks were stranded on the Pakistani side of the Torkham crossing, with 600 more forced to stop along the road to the border.

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Talks were underway between Islamabad and Kabul to resolve the issue, according to officials on both sides.

There was no breakthrough as of Monday night, Abdul Salam Jawad, spokesman for the Afghanistan Ministry of Industry and Commerce, said.

Pakistan and Afghanistan have had increasingly fraught relations in recent months, with Islamabad accusing the Taliban government of failing to root out militants staging attacks on Pakistan from Afghan soil — a claim Kabul has denied.

The Torkham and Spin Boldak-Chaman crossings were frequently shut last year, with tensions sometimes spilling over into armed clashes between border guards across the frontier.


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