ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan have confirmed the reopening of the Torkham gate, which was closed early Wednesday morning after Afghan authorities raised objections to the placement of a goodwill board (Welcome to Pakistan) by Pakistani authorities.
The gate remained closed for nearly 12 hours, according to Pakistani customs officials.
Border officials of the two countries held successful negotiations and agreed to reopen the border in the evening, allowing hundreds of vehicles to cross the border.
The Afghan commissioner of Torkham Mawlawi Esmatullah Yaqub said that after the negotiation with the Pakistani authorities, the gate of Torkham was reopened to transit.
According to Mr. Yaqoub, currently, trucks can travel through this gate as before.
The Taliban commissioner had earlier claimed that the Pakistani security officials wanted to install a new gate that Afghan officials resisted.
Pakistani officials said that leaders of the two countries will discuss ways to remove differences over the installation of the sign board.
This is the third time in nearly four months that the Torkham, the major route between the two countries, have been closed.
The gate was closed on Nov.21 after Pakistan decided to make passports and visas for the Afghan truck drivers. The Afghan side reopened the border after Pakistan delayed implementation of the decision.
The Torkham border was also closed on Sept. 6 due to an exchange of gunfire between Afghan and Pakistani forces. Taliban had closed the border after Pakistan opposed construction of a police station near the border area.
Also on Sept 6, hundreds of the outlawed Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan members attacked check posts in the Pakistani Chitral district, bordering Afghanistan.
Pakistan security officials had stated that they had shared information about the TTP movement in Kunar and Nuristan provinces ahead of the Chitral attack.
Traders show concerns
Shortly after the border was closed, the Pak-Afghan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PAJCCI) expressed concern over the closure of Torkham for trade.
In a press statement issued here on Wednesday, Coordinator PAJCCI, Ziaul Haq Sarhadi said the border crossing at Torkham was closed for goods-laden trucks at around 4:00 am on Tuesday.
“It is very concerning for the business community because the closure of borders inflicts heavy losses on business communities of both the countries,” Sarhadi said.
He said a lot of trucks daily carry perishable goods which can be rotten if delayed for a couple of days, burdening businessmen with huge losses.
Sarhadi said the volume of Pak-Afghan trade has already shrunk by around 70 per cent after restrictions over the import of several items for transit trade, shifting a large portion to Iran’s Bandar Abbas port.
He said in the prevailing scenario closing of borders for trade is very detrimental to the promotion of commerce in the region and between Pakistan and Afghanistan.