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Kabul Issues Warning of Permanent Closure for Torkham and Kharlaachi Borders Amid Visa Dispute

In the backdrop of extensive discussions between government officials and traders to resolve visa restrictions on Afghan transporters, the Afghan Taliban authorities issued a threat to permanently close the Torkham and Kharlaachi borders with Pakistan if a mutually agreeable solution was not reached.

Sources at Torkham, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed that a recent flag meeting between Pakistani and Afghan border security officials ended acrimoniously, with the Afghan Taliban insisting on a resolution to the visa policy issue.

The Afghan authorities asserted that the new restrictions were unacceptable as they had not received prior formal intimation of the visa policy implementation. It was further reported that the Afghan side demanded the repatriation of all Afghan transporters stranded in Pakistan before proceeding to permanently close the border by constructing a concrete wall at the main gate.

Torkham

Amidst this tension, the Torkham border crossing remained closed for trading activities for the fourth consecutive day, causing concerns about the potential spoilage of goods.

Local traders and members of the Sarhad Chamber of Commerce and Industries (SCCI) conveyed the adverse effects of the sudden visa restrictions to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s caretaker chief minister. The delegation suggested a two-month deferment of the new visa policy to facilitate Afghan transporters in acquiring valid travel documentation.

Despite assurances of support from the caretaker chief minister, it was emphasized that changes to the visa policy were not within the provincial jurisdiction. Additionally, a meeting between senior customs and security officials addressed the situation at both Torkham and Kharlaachi borders.

Customs officials defended the implementation of legal travel document requirements, asserting that the Afghan authorities had been informed multiple times about the visa policy. They argued that the new policy would aid in tracking individuals crossing the border and adhering to international rules.

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