Pakistan Indefinitely Closes Border with Afghanistan Amid Rising Tension

Pakistan Indefinitely Closes Border with Afghanistan Amid Rising Tension

Pakistani soldiers check the identity of citizens returning from Afghanistan at the border town of Chaman, Pakistan, March 7, 2017.


PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN —

Pakistan has indefinitely closed two border crossings with Afghanistan after opening them for two days to let through Afghans with visas, officials said on Thursday.

The official border crossings were abruptly ordered closed last month after a series of attacks Pakistan blames on militants sheltered in Afghanistan, heightening tension between the neighbors.

But Pakistan temporarily reopened the crossings on Tuesday and Wednesday this week, to allow the return home of stranded citizens of both countries holding valid travel documents.

Two men, a woman and a child were trampled to death in the resulting surge of more than 20,000 Afghans passing through the crossings, said Attahullah Khogyani, the government spokesman for Afghanistan's border province of Nangarhar.

Pakistani official Niaz Mohammad, based in the border town of Torkham, said 24,000 Afghans had returned to Afghanistan on foot, while 700 Pakistanis returned home, before the border was closed again at 9.30 p.m. on Wednesday.

"There is no clarity on when the border will be reopened," Mohammad said.

The closure chokes off a key trading route for landlocked Afghanistan, although it has been working to build trade ties with other neighbors, such as Iran. It also cuts off Pakistani traders from a steady market.

On Thursday, about 200 traders and transporters held a protest at Torkham, complaining that cargo on 800 stranded trucks was rotting, particularly meat and fruit.

"People have suffered billions of rupees of losses in the past three or four weeks," said one protester, Ali Jan, a transporter.

"Their loaded vehicles have been standing by the road and there is no indication when the border will be opened."

A Pakistani government official, who asked not to be named, said the border would stay closed until Afghanistan took action against a list of 76 "most-wanted terrorists" whose capture and handover by Kabul the Pakistani military demanded last month.

Relations between the two countries are tense, with each routinely accusing the other of doing too little to stop Taliban fighters and other militants from operating in its territory.

Pakistan has blamed several attacks last month, in which more than 130 people were killed, on Pakistani militants taking shelter in Afghanistan. Afghanistan denies the charges.

Last year, Pakistan started building a barrier at Torkham, angering Afghanistan, which rejects a colonial-era boundary line dating from 1893.



Add Comment

all comments

  Other news

more
Tour of Britain race in Mansfield where cyclists banned

Tour of Britain race in Mansfield where cyclists banned..

20-Aug, 11:10

A council has been accused of double standards for allowing a stage of a...

World Toe Wrestling champion wins again

World Toe Wrestling champion wins again..

20-Aug, 06:51

New toe wrestling champions have been crowned this weekend after the...

Kate Beckinsale’s lookalike daughter Lily is all grown up in new bikini photo

Kate Beckinsale’s lookalike daughter Lily is all grown up in new bikini photo..

20-Aug, 12:10

by Sophie Hamilton Kate Beckinsale’s daughter Lily has got fans on...

Oxford University employee charged with Chicago murder

Oxford University employee charged with Chicago murder..

19-Aug, 22:03

An Oxford University employee has been charged with murdering a...

New 'American Horror Story' season to take on the 2016 election

New 'American Horror Story' season to take on the 2016 election..

16-Feb, 15:44

"American Horror Story" is taking on a new challenge: politics. On...

El Salvador's first cardinal surprised by selection

El Salvador's first cardinal surprised by selection..

22-May, 18:08

Monsignor Gregorio Rosa Chavez, an auxiliary bishop who works as a parish...

JK Rowling reveals she wrote a secret fairy tale

JK Rowling reveals she wrote a secret fairy tale..

10-Jul, 11:36

J.K. Rowling has revealed yet another bombshell: The best-selling young...

Cool facts about 7 Earth-size planets circling single star

Cool facts about 7 Earth-size planets circling single star..

22-Feb, 17:52

Talk about an Earth-shattering discovery. Scientists have spotted seven...