The closure of the key transit point between the countries left people and trucks carrying essential supplies stranded.
The usual trade and movement of people between Pakistan and Afghanistan has fully resumed after the two sides reopened a key border crossing that was closed nearly a week ago by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, stranding people and thousands of trucks carrying food and essential items.
The Afghan embassy in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, announced the reopening of the Torkham border on Saturday on Twitter. Pakistani officials and Afghanistan’s Taliban-appointed administrator in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province also confirmed that the border crossing was open to passengers and trade, according to AP news agency.
“Last evening, we temporarily opened the border for Pakistanis who were stuck on the Afghan side. Finally, we fully reopened the border for trade, transit, and pedestrian movement from both sides this morning (Saturday),” a Pakistani border official, who didn’t want to be named, told Anadolu Agency.
Disputes linked to the 2,600km (1,615-mile) border have been a bone of contention between the neighbours for decades. The Torkham crossing is the main point of transit for travellers and goods between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan.
The announcement sparked joy and relief among those who had been waiting for the reopening of the international trade route since Sunday, when the Taliban shuttered it, alleging that Islamabad was denying Afghan migrants entry into Pakistan for medical care.
Last Monday, Afghan Taliban forces and Pakistani border guards exchanged fire, wounding a Pakistani soldier. Since then, officials from the two sides were in talks to resolve the issue amid demands from people on both sides to immediately reopen the crossing.
On Wednesday, Pakistan’s defence minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and secret service chief Nadeem Anjum travelled to Kabul and met senior Taliban officials to discuss the closure and other issues.
After the visit, the crossing was briefly reopened by the Afghan Taliban to allow some of the thousands of trucks that had lined up for days at the border – many with vegetables, fruits and other perishable food items – to cross and ease the backlog.
But Pakistan shut the border on Thursday, saying it needed an explanation from the Afghan side about the abrupt closure on Sunday.
Pakistani and Taliban officials on Friday held talks and finally agreed to reopen the crossing.
On Saturday, Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, a director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We are happy to confirm that Torkham is fully open for trade and movement of people.”
Jubilant Afghan and Pakistani truck drivers were crossing the key trade route with supplies, he added.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has accused the Taliban of sheltering armed attackers belonging to the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also sometimes referred to as the Pakistan Taliban. The Afghan Taliban has rejected the accusation.
In recent months, the TTP has been blamed for a spike in violent attacks across Pakistan, killing dozens of people.
The TTP is a separate armed group allied with the Taliban in Afghanistan. It has been waging a rebellion against the state of Pakistan for more than a decade.