Wr: Mostafa Mohamed, Tr: Ahmed Seif EL-Din
Despite the Taliban’s decision to reopen the Torkham border crossing with Pakistan on Thursday, February 23, allowing food trucks to enter Afghanistan, the events leading up to the reopening raised many questions about the nature of the relationship between the two sides. Taliban militants had exchanged fire with Pakistani forces on the border, one day after the Taliban closed the crossing. The Taliban also accused Islamabad of violating an agreement on patient treatment, and closed the gates of the Torkham border crossing to traffic.
On Sunday, February 19, the Afghan Commissioner for the Torkham border crossing, Mohammad Sadegh Khaled, announced that the crossing had been closed on orders from officials in Kabul, after complaints that Pakistan was not fulfilling its promises. Pakistani authorities refused to allow travelers to enter under a new procedure requiring specific documents from medical attendants.
The spokesman for the Taliban’s foreign ministry, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, condemned statements made by Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari in Germany, in which he referred to terrorist groups operating in Afghanistan, saying, “We recommend that Pakistan discuss bilateral issues with the Afghan government in private, instead of complaining at international conferences.”
On the other hand, the director of the media department in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, Sadiqullah Qurashi, said that the Afghan and Pakistani sides are communicating to find a solution to the Torkham border crossing issue between the two countries.
He confirmed that the Afghan authorities had closed the crossing near the Khyber Pass to travelers and goods, explaining that the Pakistani side did not comply with the promises it made to facilitate the passage and movement of patients and travelers.
The Taliban-led Afghan government, following the return of calm between the Pakistani and Afghan sides on Wednesday, February 22, announced that Kabul will not pose any new threat or danger to any country, particularly its neighbor Pakistan.
Analysts believe that the situation may escalate further unless the two sides make concerted efforts to de-escalate the situation and address the root causes of their differences.
The Torkham border crossing is a vital lifeline for the transportation of goods and people between the two countries, and any further closure would have serious consequences for the economies of both nations.
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