Gunfight shutters Torkham crossing between Pakistan, Afghanistan

By Salaam Times and AFP

Security personnel pose for a photograph near the closed gates of the Torkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on September 6. A gun battle erupted between Pakistani and Afghan border forces, with each side blaming the other for starting the firefight that shut their busiest trade crossing. [Shafiullah Kakar/AFP]

Security personnel pose for a photograph near the closed gates of the Torkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan in Nangarhar province, Afghanistan, on September 6. A gun battle erupted between Pakistani and Afghan border forces, with each side blaming the other for starting the firefight that shut their busiest trade crossing. [Shafiullah Kakar/AFP]

PESHAWAR, Pakistan -- A gun battle erupted Wednesday (September 6) between Pakistani and Afghan border forces, officials said, with each side blaming the other for starting the firefight that shut their busiest trade crossing.

"Afghan forces tried to establish a check post in an area where it is agreed... that both sides will not establish a check post," said Pakistani local administration official Irshad Mohmand, who also said the crossing remains closed.

"After an objection from the Pakistani side, the Afghan forces opened fire," he said, adding that Pakistani border forces responded with "retaliatory fire."

Afghanistan in turn blamed Pakistan.

"Pakistani forces attacked the Afghan side when Afghan forces wanted to reactivate their old outpost with an excavator," said Quraishi Badloon, an official for the information and culture directorate in Nangarhar province.

"The attack has resulted in casualties, but the exact figures are not known yet."

A local Pakistani police official, who was not authorized to speak to the media, said gunshots started at around 1pm at the Torkham border crossing, halfway between Islamabad and Kabul, with an evacuation ordered.

The shooting stopped by late Wednesday afternoon, but the border remained shut, he said.

"The atmosphere is tense" and "forces on both sides are alert," he said.

One Pakistani border guard was wounded, said another local government official, who asked not to be identified.

The two sides fired mortars and light and heavy weapons at each other, the official added.

The crossing at Torkham is a key trading way point, where Afghanistan exports truckloads of coal and receives food and other supplies from Pakistan.

A gun battle also erupted at the crossing in February after Afghan authorities ordered the border shut, with both sides blaming the other for starting the firefight.

TTP repelled

The same day, Pakistani troops repelled a cross-border raid from Afghanistan by "hundreds" of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, a senior official said, with extra forces rushed to the rugged frontier region.

"They were in hundreds and were armed with light and heavy weapons. We were ready to face the attack and exchange of fire continued for some four hours," Mohammad Ali, deputy commissioner of Chitral district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, told AFP.

Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Pakistani military's public relations wing, issued a statement saying "a large group of terrorists equipped with latest weapons" attacked two outposts in the area.

Four Pakistani troops were killed, while "12 terrorists were sent to hell," ISPR said.

"We were monitoring their movements in areas close to the border for two or three days," deputy commissioner Ali said.

"Informers have also sent us information about the militant group movement."

The TTP in a statement claimed to have seized two military posts in the Bomburit area of Chitral, Pakistan, which is about 200km northwest of the capital Islamabad.

Police official Karim Khan told AFP that security forces had sealed entry to Chitral, a rugged area of steep hills and valleys popular with domestic tourists.

Another official said troops and paramilitary forces had been rushed in to reinforce the district.

"Sanitization of the area is being carried out to eliminate any other terrorists," ISPR said.

Frequent flare-ups

At the height of their power, the TTP held sway over swathes of mountain communities, enforcing austere Islamic law, and patrolling land just 140km north of Islamabad.

But the Pakistani military came down hard after 2014 when TTP militants raided a school for children of army personnel and killed more than 140 people, most of them pupils.

Its fighters were largely routed into neighboring Afghanistan, but now Islamabad claims the TTP are using Afghanistan as a foothold to stage assaults across the border -- a charge Kabul denies.

Diplomatic tensions have been stoked by frequent flare-ups along their mostly mountainous border, which Kabul has long disputed, including sporadic gunfights and crossing closures.

In the 12 months following August 2021, Pakistan witnessed a 50% surge in militant attacks focussed in the western border provinces, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).

Both nations are in dire economic straits, with Afghanistan reeling from a drop-off in aid over the past two years and Pakistan crippled by a domestic downturn and runaway inflation.

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Pakistan has created TTP and other similar groups. It is stupid for Pakistan to blame Afghanistan and Afghans for TTP. Pakistan has this and dozens of similar groups that they created long ago. These groups were formed after and before the Soviet Union with the creation of Pakistan. There is no country or land called Pakistan on the world map. The land of present-day Pakistan is taken from Great India and Afghanistan. After the departure of the British from the region, it is left as a hired assassin or mercenary and will be used for their benefit. But now, the matter is completely confidential. The same country, built at the hands of the West, still deceives the Westerners and the Easterners. World politics will inevitably change over time. The world, especially the West, has now come to understand that Pakistan has become a trap for the region and the West. Now there are two things to say; 1: Pakistan will be destroyed due to the groups created by its own hands, but if it is destroyed in this way, how much threat will those groups pose to the world in the future? 2: The world should give rights to every nation and citizen in this region (Pakistan) with all their skill to destroy the artificial homeland called Pakistan to get rid of the calamity. If this is not done, the peace in the region and world is madness.


However, according to international rules and regulations, no country can and does not have the right to unilaterally build checkposts, or extend a fence or carry out other similar activities, particularly in a situation where the border has no formal system and there are historical and legal disputes between the countries and claim from one country. One last thing: Until and unless Afghans stop destroying their home on the provocation of others, stop targeting each other, and reach national unity, the current geographical condition of Afghanistan will be under threat in danger. 3


They even crossed the Line in some areas to this side. According to some information and military coordinates, Pakistani soldiers have advanced kilometers from their previous positions towards the border in the past years, for example, in the Khas Kunar district of Kunar province, Guyan, Barmal, and Gomal in Paktika. It reaches up to 21, 23, and 29 kilometers in those districts. Crossing the Imaginary Line: During the past few years, apart from the fact that Pakistani troops have advanced along the other side of the Line, they have crossed 2-3 kilometers to this side of the Imaginary Line in some areas and have built military posts or other facilities. According to the information, this kind of advancement happened in Kamdish of Nuristan Province, Goshta of Nangarhar, Lalpura and Momandara, Sarkano of Kunar, Garmsir of Helmand, and Barmal of Paktika. Old, democratic Afghan governments have consistently responded angrily to such military maneuvers and Pakistan's establishment of facilities close to the Imaginary Line. However, it has produced no results. Despite all the protests in Afghanistan, under the pretext of border management, the Pakistani side unilaterally installed barbed wire along the Durand Line without the consent or notification of the Afghan side. It has almost completed this task. Pakistan also says it is taking such measures on its territory, and there is no need for anyone's consent or notification. 2


130 years later, Durand Line's current situation: Precisely 130 years ago, in 1893 AD, the imaginary Durand Line was imposed by British India on Amir Abdul Rahman Khan. Although the historical, political, and legal aspects of this Line and the conditions under which the document was signed have been researched a lot, considering the history of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and the current situation of the country, I thought it was important to write down my thoughts on the current situation of this Imaginary Line. History: The Imaginary Durand Line has a total length of 2,412 km, starting from the junction point of Afghanistan, British India, and China in the northeast and passing through 12 provinces and 45 districts of Afghanistan and the Afghanistan-Iran border. In 1895, a joint commission was formed to implement the Imaginary Line in the territory. Still, due to the strong reaction and opposition of the peoples and tribes on both sides of the Imaginary Line, the Imaginary Durand Line was not implemented in the territory. Despite its historical and legal aspects, it has not been implemented in the land, which is why it is also called the imaginary Line. What happened in the past 40 years? After the document was signed, tens of years after the end of the regime of martyred Sardar Muhammad Daud Khan, Pakistani military posts were located kilometers away from the Imaginary Line. There was only a limited presence of unarmed militias in the predominantly tribal ar


The closure of the Torkham crossing seems to be a planned work because many fruits of Afghanistan are ripe this season, and the farmers hope to sell them at a reasonable price so they will earn some money. But the Muslim country, Pakistan, permanently closes its doors this season, sometimes under one pretext and sometimes on another pretext, to damage the crops of Afghan farmers and cause millions of Afghanis in damages. But we are Pashtuns by name. Otherwise, we need to do something that will close the disgusting crossing of Torkham for the rest of our lives.


According to the media reports, Pakistani forces fired at Taliban border forces when Taliban forces were repairing a security post. It is true that closing the Torkham route affects the trade between the two countries and the region, and the traders of both sides can face commercial and financial losses. Before this, a cargo of figs of the Afghan traders, which was on its way to India through Wagah port, was set on fire near a police checkpoint in Baluchistan state by the dirty Pakistani forces, which caused great concern and mistrust. Also, the Pakistani government has recently sent has stopped hundreds of containers of goods and cargo of Afghanistan under the pretext of being on the sensitive list in Karachi port. According to the officials of the Afghan government, unfortunately, contrary to all previous commitments, the ruling custom and commitments based on international laws, the Pakistani side has created problems in Karachi port most of the time, and at the same time up on the arrival of the season of Afghan agricultural products and fruits, it has closed the entrances without any justification. The statement of the Taliban's foreign ministry stated that in addition to the dead, [blocking] a large number of travelers (women, elderly people and children) on both sides of Torkham, which is the trade area of Afghanistan and Pakistan, is harming the economy of the region. In fact, Pakistan, which was born almost seventy-six years ago as a result of a shameful deal and occu


In winter, we buy tomatoes even for 500 Afghanis. If an average family can dry 8 maund tomatoes during the tomato season, it will last for the whole winter. We do the same every year. Last month I bought 15 maund tomatoes and dried them at home. Then we ground it in the market. They were dried well, and we stored them properly in glass bottles. So now there is a lame excuse that Pakistan has blocked the crossing. Dear fellow citizens, I hope you can buy and dry tomatoes for the next cold and rainy winter or take them out. Yesterday, one piece of two tomatoes, i.e., two maund tomatoes, cost 100 Afghanis in Kabul and Jalalabad's fruit/vegetable markets; now it will be very cheap. This is patriotism, patriot!


Afghan life and death are of no value to Pakistan; They enjoy the corpses of Afghans more than their lives. The funeral of an Afghan child has been lying in a car for the past four days at Torkham. It is only the child whose picture has been published. What else will happen? Pakistan has been treating Afghans like this since its inception and has proven its inhumane treatment. We had taken initial steps to free ourselves from Pakistan's grip, but still, the Westerners grabbed us by the wounded finger in the name of peace and pushed us into a ravine.


The war is not due to the checkpoint, nor can it be any other technical or border reason. The story is that fruits and vegetables have been harvested on a large scale in Afghanistan. Now is the time for Afghan farmers to reap the rewards of their year-long labor and grow their economy. Still, unfortunately, as always, Pakistan is trying to destroy or weaken Afghanistan's economy and agricultural system. Since Afghanistan is primarily an agricultural country and the people's economy depends on livestock and agriculture, Pakistan has always tried to create hurdles in the border areas (along export and import routes) during such a critical moment when fruits and vegetables are ripe. Tomatoes have reached a tremendous number in the Logar, Kapisa, and Maidan Wardag...provinces of Afghanistan, which cannot be absorbed into the Afghan market (they are more than the people need). Similarly, fruits such as grapes, melons, and apples... have arrived in the provinces of Kabul, Kapisa, Maidan Wardag, and Kandahar, and they are large enough to meet internal needs and need to be exported to an international market. But because our fruits were exported to European and Asian countries on a large scale before, now, with the arrival of the new government, obstacles have been created in the export routes to other countries, and Pakistan is the only one that Afghan farmers and traders consider an excellent market for themselves. However, creating problems in the border areas at such a sensitive t


No war should have happened at Torkham gate. This is not a normal gate. In fact, thousands of patients from Afghanistan to Pakistan pass for treatment every day through this gate. Dozens of Afghan corpses are transported from Pakistan to Afghanistan for burial through this gate, most of them had gone for treatment and died in Pakistan. Thousands of tons of fresh fruits and vegetables are transported from Afghanistan to Pakistan and from Pakistan to Afghanistan through this gate. By closing the Torkham gate for one day, the traders of both countries suffer losses of millions of dollars. Thousands of tons of raw materials are transferred from the mines of Afghanistan to Pakistan through this gate. Thousands of people come and go through this gate every day, and by closing this gate, thousands of people will be unemployed. My opinion is that there should be no war between Afghanistan and Pakistan, as both countries will suffer a lot. For many years, the government of Pakistan in Afghanistan has supported the fighters and intervened in Afghanistan. No country can see benefit in war. The current government of Afghanistan and the government of Pakistan should solve their problems through negotiations, not through war, because the war will ruin both countries.


In general, war is a bad phenomenon, but it is worse for the people of Afghanistan. We have spent nearly fifty years in wars, we have achieved nothing, we hope there will be no more wars. In the recent fighting in Torkham, people died, mothers and fathers became lost their children and sisters lost their brothers and they were burn in such punishments! We hope to use common sense and calm thinking. War is not good for anyone, war ruins and causes destruction. Torkham border has been closed for three days, thousands of people are stuck on both sides of the border. People are sick, business is at a standstill, thousands of people are out of work. This is what war is blessed with. If everyone fights, Afghans don't need to fight anymore.