Pakistan, Afghanistan reopen key border crossing after clashes

By Salaam Times and AFP

Afghans cross into Pakistan at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Torkham on September 15. The Torkham crossing reopened September 15, more than a week after it was closed following a gun battle between frontier guards. [Shafiullah Kakar/AFP]

Afghans cross into Pakistan at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Torkham on September 15. The Torkham crossing reopened September 15, more than a week after it was closed following a gun battle between frontier guards. [Shafiullah Kakar/AFP]

TORKHAM -- The main border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan re-opened to pedestrians and vehicles on Friday (September 15), more than a week after it was closed following a gun battle between frontier guards.

There have been several border closures after clashes between Pakistan and Afghan forces since August 2021, but the nine-day closure at Torkham -- one of the busiest crossings -- was one of the longest so far.

The towns on both sides of the border are named Torkham.

Ailing Afghans desperate to make hospital appointments in Pakistan were among the first to cross, pushed in homemade wheelchairs past checkpoints and luggage X-ray machines along roads and walkways between the frontier posts.

Truck drivers wait at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Torkham on September 15. The crossing is a key trading waypoint, where Afghanistan delivers truckloads of coal for export and receives food and other imports from Pakistan. [Shahid Khan/AFP]

Truck drivers wait at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Torkham on September 15. The crossing is a key trading waypoint, where Afghanistan delivers truckloads of coal for export and receives food and other imports from Pakistan. [Shahid Khan/AFP]

Shakoor Khan, 62, said he had been waiting for five days to take his daughter, who suffers from epilepsy, to a hospital in Pakistan for treatment.

"These five days were like seeing her on death row," he said.

"I am sick... I have a respiratory disease," said another woman, who gave her name as simply Habiba, as she waited to cross into Pakistan.

Islamabad and Kabul have been in diplomatic deadlock since September 6, when border guards opened fire at the crossing in a dispute over the construction of an Afghan outpost.

Torkham, which is halfway between the two capitals, is the busiest border post for trade and travel between the two nations, which share a porous 2,600km frontier that cuts through rugged mountains and valleys.

As hundreds of colorfully painted trucks loaded with products prepared to cross, traders complained that tons of perishable goods had been lost.

"Our grapes, tomatoes, cucumbers and other produce are rotting in Jalalabad market," said trader Hazrat Gul as he left Afghanistan.

The border closure has meant "a lot of losses for traders and truck drivers," he said, calling on the authorities to "not involve the gates with politics" and to "always keep the trade lanes open."

More than three million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan, according to the Pakistani government.

Many Afghans who migrated to Pakistan since August 2021 are reporting continuing difficulties and declining quality of life in their adoptive country.

Constant source of friction

Each side blamed the other for firing the first salvo on September 6, souring already poor relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

The border -- a colonial-era demarcation that every Afghan government has disputed -- is a constant source of friction.

Pakistan has complained repeatedly that Afghanistan is failing to secure its frontier, allowing militants to cross and carry out attacks.

Afghan authorities have denied the allegations.

Officials said more than 1,300 vehicles, including trucks and trailers, were on the Pakistani side of the frontier, waiting to cross.

On the Afghan side, officials and residents staged a small protest earlier this week, demanding that the border reopen.

Pakistan's foreign ministry said this week that "unprovoked firing by Afghan border security forces invariably emboldens the terrorist elements."

"Pakistan has continued to exercise restraint and prioritize dialogue in the face of persistent, unwarranted provocations by Afghan troops deployed along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border," said ministry spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.

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

TTP involvement

Pakistani troops thwarted a September 6 cross-border raid from Afghanistan, launched by "hundreds" of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, a senior official said.

Additional forces were swiftly deployed to the rugged frontier region.

A significant number of armed militants wielding light and heavy weaponry initiated an assault on a Pakistani military post near the border, said Chitral district deputy commissioner Mohammad Ali.

Chitral district, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, borders Afghanistan.

Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the Pakistani military's public relations wing, confirmed that "a large group of terrorists equipped with the latest weapons" had attacked two outposts in the vicinity.

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

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

Do you like this article?

9 Comment

Comment Policy * Denotes required field 1500 / 1500

I watched a video that recently went viral on social media. Four or five Pakistani policemen caught an Afghan refugee in a crowded market. They slapped and kicked him. The poor Afghan tries to cover his face with his hands to defend himself but in vain. Then, he tries to escape a few steps, and the police aim their weapons at him to stop. They approached him and beat him on the back with the butt of the rifle. I have been very disturbed since I watched this video yesterday. I'm sick of being an Afghan; when will our obligations end? Why doesn't anyone ask about us? Why are the human institutions that are investigating such human cases sitting silent? Why are international migration organizations silent? Why are Afghans subjected to so much oppression? How long will we tolerate this situation? And why ........?


To be honest, I do not feel sorry for these Afghan refugees who are deported from Pakistan, because these Afghans have become Pakistanis. They love the dirty Pakistan more than their homeland. They have no love for their country. If they are not forced to come out now, they won't come out willingly or even for the rest of their lives.


Bro, there is no TTP. This is a joint project of the [Pakistani] army and ISI to suppress the Pashtun nation, which is being carried out. Whatever is achieved, is going on with the agreement of these two forces. They still think that they will deceive the world that they are also victims of terrorism. What kind of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is it as they do not bomb in Lahore, they do not explode and commit suicide in Punjab and Sindh, they do not kill an important Punjabi officer and do not carry out an armed attack in Hira Mandi. All the news are either of the attacks in Waziristan or in Chitral. From this, it is clear that this is a very strong project created to suppress the Pashtun people.


Pakistan is like a whore who would fall into the arms of whoever gives her more money. There is no need to be angry with such a country! But I'm furious with my own Afghans, who not only grumble about Pakistan's awful behavior but then go there! We, too, have no honor. I swear I would not have uttered Pakistan's name. They made fun of us for forty-five years! But we are still gazing at and marching towards the brazen Pakistan.


It's good that the border gate between Pakistan and Afghanistan was reopened after several days. By closing the border gate of Torkham, a gate of a big city in Afghanistan was closed. Closing the gate of Torkham costs both countries a lot, especially for the traders of fresh fruits. With the closure of the Torkham gate, the traders cannot compensate for the several days that the Torkham gate was closed in several years. Both the government of Pakistan and Afghanistan may better try not to close the gate of Torkham with a baseless topic. The solution is not to close the gate. The economy of both countries is not good. Small fights will eventually turn into a big war. Then both countries will face a big economic challenge. Although Pakistan has ruined Afghanistan in 45 years with the support of the fighting groups that fought in Afghanistan, we Afghans give our patience to our merciful God. May Almighty God reward them for all the atrocities they have committed against Afghans. Pakistan has played with the fate of millions of poor Afghans, but war is not the solution.


Closing of the Torkham gate caused heavy losses to the merchants, but it was still good that the gate was reopened. Pakistan is our bad neighbor in every way. Every year these honor-less men close this gate in the fruit season with some pretext, and they do it only to harm the Afghan traders. If someone hears my words, I will close the gate of Torkham on both sides in any event. Although hundreds of people pass through this gate every day, it will not be easy to close the gate of Torkham forever.


Pakistan has violated all international norms regarding Afghanistan. Pakistan is not a good neighbor and does not understand the principles of neighborliness. Their policy is full of hatred towards Afghans and Afghanistan. They think the path they have chosen to hate the Afghans will bring Afghanistan under their domination, but this will never happen. By doing this, they create hatred for Pakistan in the minds of Afghans. Today, even an Afghan child knows that Pakistan has never been, is not, and will never be a friend of Afghanistan. For decades, when the crops and fruits of Afghan farmers in Afghanistan get ready to be harvested and exported, Pakistan has created such problems on the Durand Imaginary border. In terms of pressure, Afghanistan has alternative ways against Pakistan. Afghan officials should not believe in doing business with Pakistan. Instead of Afghans being needy, Pakistan should be forced to change its policy in terms of trade. We have good relations with Central Asia and should focus on Central Asia. Afghan officials should ban the transfer of Pakistani goods to Central Asia and goods from Central Asia to Pakistan through Afghanistan. If this is done, I am sure that the cries of Pakistani businessmen will be heard in Kabul. And even if this is done, many manufacturing plants will be closed in Pakistan. So, this kind of work should be done against this kind of hypocritical policy of Pakistan. It is also helpful for Afghans to boycott purchasing Pakistani goo


Afghanistan's issues will not be solved until education reaches every home. Two years have passed since the ban on girls' education. The nation is still moving in the direction of backwardness and misfortune. I read the writing of the BBC reporter who contacted the Taliban seniors and juniors to ask about the remaining period and further order in this regard after the two years of the ban on girls' education. He says no one has responded to the contact! I thought that the Taliban had nothing to say. What will they say to the Lord on the day of Judgement?


It is indeed a game played by Pakistan. Every year, when it is time to harvest fruits and vegetables in Afghanistan, thousands of trucks are stopped at the Torkham border. Pakistan closes the gate of Torkham. It is not something new for us. Every year, the same game is played, and as a result, Afghan businessmen lose millions of dollars. But I don't blame Pakistanis. I blame Afghan businessmen because they know well that the Pakistani government plays this game with them each year but have not learned anything from it. During the time of Ashraf Ghani, Mr. Ghani went onto the stage and told Pakistan that he had nothing to do with it. He said, "It is up to you to close the Torkham and Spin Buldak border today or tomorrow." Mr. Ghani addressed his people and told them that instead of Torkham and Spin Buldak, he had opened many other alternative ways for them to export and import. But when the people heard Ghani's words on radio, television, and other news sources, they laughed at him and said, Ashraf Ghani had went crazy. Which alternative ways, as there are no different ways other than Torkham and Spin Buldak? Then, when pomegranate season arrived, Pakistan closed the border again. Ghani ordered that those pomegranates be transported to Central Asian countries through the air corridor. This happened and proved that Ashraf Ghani was a patriot, an economist, and a true servant of the people. Afghanistan's pomegranates did not rot, their grapes did not spoil, and the screams of tra