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A key border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan remains closed for 6th day

KARACHI: A key border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan remained closed on Wednesday for a sixth consecutive day, despite the de-escalation of hostilities between the two border forces, an official said.

Kharlachi crossing that connects Pakistan’s northwestern Kunnar tribal district with Afghanistan’s eastern Paktia province was shut following skirmishes between the two border forces that left several people injured and displaced hundreds from both sides.

The two forces reached a “truce” on Monday with the help of tribal elders from both sides, however, the crossing that serves as a key trade route between the two countries, remained shut.

“I can confirm that there is no decision yet to reopen (Kharlachi) border,” a spokesman for the Kurram’s deputy commissioner office told Anadolu by telephone, without giving any reason for the closure despite the truce.

“Hopefully, it will reopen soon,” he added.

Kurram Deputy Commissioner Javedullah Mehsud did not respond to Anadolu’s request for comment.

Hundreds of cargo trucks loaded with multiple goods, including perishable items, line on both sides of the border, anxiously awaiting the re-opening of the crossing, Haji Raud, president of a local trade association, told Anadolu.

Some 100-150 cargo trucks enter Pakistan and Afghanistan through Kharlachi crossing every day, according to Rauf.

“We have already incurred millions of rupees in losses due to the ongoing closure in terms of transportation costs and perishable items, which have already started decomposing,” he added.

Sharing a similar view, Muqtasid Ahsan, secretary-general of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries, a trade body representing businessmen from Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, said the frequent border closures “discourage” business in both countries.

“Trade activities have been badly affected by these closures, frequently causing heavy losses to the traders from both sides,” Ahsan told Anadolu.

“There are always alternative routes but they take a heavy toll on us due to exceeding transportation charges and delivery schedules,” he added.

The trade volume between landlocked Afghanistan and its southern neighbor has been mostly affected by terrorist attacks in Pakistan that Islamabad blames on Afghanistan-based militants, leading to the closure of border crossings.

According to the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce, trade between the two countries amounted to $2.5 billion in 2010 but dropped to $1.6 billion before settling at slightly over $1.8 billion in 2022-23.

Trade between the neighbors is conducted under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement, a bilateral deal signed in 2010.

Pakistan and Afghanistan share 18 crossing points, the busiest of which are the Torkham and Chaman, which connect Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province with Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province.

Thousands of people, mainly Afghans, use the two crossings daily to seek medical treatment and earn a livelihood in Pakistan’s border areas.

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