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Trade at Torkham border stops Due to travel document dispute

The primary border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, Torkham, renowned for its bustling trade activities, has once again been closed due to a dispute over document regulations for commercial vehicle drivers traversing the border. Temporarily shutting down these crossings has become a recurring issue, particularly following Islamabad’s extensive crackdown on undocumented Afghans residing in Pakistan and the subsequent tightening of entry requirements for Afghans.

The recent closure, initiated late on Friday night, has led to a blame game between the two nations. Afghan officials, represented by Abdul Jabbar Hekmat, assert that Torkham is inaccessible to commercial truck drivers lacking visas from Pakistani authorities. However, Pakistani officials deny the imposition of a visa requirement, contending that the border closure resulted from Afghan counterparts being informed that truck drivers must possess a valid passport to enter the Pakistani side – a document many Afghans lack.

According to a Pakistani customs official, this passport requirement had been agreed upon in previous discussions between Afghan and Pakistani authorities on border protocols. Despite this, Afghan border officials chose to close down border trade instead of adhering to the previously established regulations.

This development has left hundreds of trucks stranded at the crossing, as confirmed by a Pakistani security official. Nevertheless, the border remains open to pedestrians.

The strained relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been escalating in recent months, with Islamabad accusing the Taliban government of not effectively addressing militants launching attacks on Pakistan from Afghan territory – an allegation vehemently denied by Kabul. The Torkham crossing, positioned equidistantly between Islamabad and Kabul, experienced frequent closures last year, occasionally leading to armed clashes between border guards.

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