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Key Pakistani-Afghan border crossing opens for trade after 10 days

Key Pakistani-Afghan border crossing opens for trade after 10 days

 
- Officials from both countries meet at Torkham border and agree to implement new visa system for truck drivers beginning April 1
 

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD (AA) – A key border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan has reopened for imports and exports after the governments in Islamabad and Kabul reached an agreement on drivers’ visas, an official told Anadolu on Tuesday.

The Torkham border was closed to traffic on Jan. 13 after authorities in Islamabad implemented a new policy requiring Afghan drivers to have a valid visa to enter the country, and the Taliban interim administration in Kabul reciprocated by barring Pakistani truckers from entering the country.

Torkham is a major border crossing that connects Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province to eastern Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.

Previously, drivers on both sides crossed the border without visas. However, in November, Islamabad announced that visas would be required, and no one would be allowed to cross without legal documents.

"Today, we reopened the border for truckers, and both sides agreed that drivers from both countries would complete their visa documents by March 31," a Pakistani official posted at the Torkham border told Anadolu on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

"Late Monday, Pakistan and Afghanistan officials met at the border point and agreed to implement a new visa system for truck drivers beginning April 1," said the official.

Both sides agreed that some policy would be implemented to make it easier for drivers to obtain visas, he added.

The Torkham border was previously closed for several days in September of last year due to skirmishes between border security forces.

It was closed again in December following a dispute between the two countries' security forces over the construction of a new gate.

The frequent closures of key border crossings have hampered trade between Islamabad and Kabul, with the trade volume decreased since the Afghan Taliban returned to power in Aug. 2021.

Earlier in November, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan soared when Islamabad launched a crackdown on illegal foreigners, mostly Afghan refugees, and announced that they would be returned to their home countries. About half a million Afghans have returned so far.

Islamabad also accuses Afghanistan's interim Taliban government of sheltering members of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of several Pakistani militant groups that frequently carry out attacks in Pakistan. The charges that the Afghan Taliban have always denied.

 
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