Thursday, March 30, 2023

Pak, Afghan forces exchange fire at major border crossing

Forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan exchanged fire on the Torkham border leaving a border guard injured.

The Taliban-led government of Afghanistan on Sunday shut the border crossing, accusing Pakistan of reneging on its commitments, Dawn reported.

Irshad Momand, a district administration official in Landi Kotal, told Dawn news that Pakistan responded to “unprovoked” firing from the Afghan side.

People living near the border crossing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confirmed that a heavy exchange of fire continued for over an hour, Dawn reported.

Momand said the injured Pakistani soldier was being treated at a hospital and his condition was stable.

On Sunday, Afghan authorities accused Islamabad of reneging on its commitments, without giving any further details.

The Afghan Taliban commissioner for Torkham said the border has been closed down for travel and transit trade.

“Pakistan has not abided by its commitments and so the gateway has been shut down on the directions of (our) leadership,” Maulavi Mohammad Siddique said in a tweet.

According to unconfirmed media reports, the Taliban government was irked by an unannounced ban on the travel of Afghan patients seeking treatment in Pakistan, Dawn reported.

However, Momand added that the issue was being discussed at the diplomatic level between Islamabad and Kabul.

He said Pakistan was awaiting a “positive” response from Afghan officials to reopen the border crossing as it was closed from their side.

Due to the precarious situation, the population around the border area has been shifted to Landi Kotal, Jamrud and Peshawar.

As the border crossing remained shut, locals complained of a shortage of essential goods even though markets remained open, Dawn reported.

Jamshed Khan, a local custom clearing agent, told Dawn that trading activities have stopped, leaving at least 300 trucks stranded.

The trucks are loaded with perishable food items which were at risk of being destroyed if the closure persisted, he added.

The daily wagers and porters whose livelihood was linked with the trade held a protest in Landi Kotal on Monday and demanded immediate reopening of the border, Dawn reported.


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