The Taliban in Afghanistan have reopened key trade routes with Pakistan

The Taliban in Afghanistan have reopened key trade routes with Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers reopened a key border crossing with Pakistan on Thursday, allowing hundreds of thousands of trucks carrying desperately needed food and other items to proceed for the first time in days, officials said.

Congestion at the Torkham crossing between the two countries began to ease after Islamabad sent a high-level delegation to Kabul on Sunday to discuss a range of issues, including the closure of the border by the Taliban.

Taliban-appointed officials in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province confirmed the reopening of the Torkham border. The Afghan embassy in Pakistan also posted news of the reopening on Twitter.

Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, a director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said thousands of vehicles, some carrying fresh produce such as vegetables and fruits, began moving through Khyber Pass in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday.

The latest development comes a day after Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif made an unannounced visit to Kabul, where he met senior Taliban officials, including Taliban-appointed Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

The group discussed the closure of Torkham, which the Taliban said was closed on Sunday because of migration issues for sick Afghans on the Pakistani side of the border, according to officials on both sides.

Security forces on both sides opened fire on Monday, injuring a Pakistani soldier.

The Taliban government said it closed the Torkham border crossing because Pakistan refused to allow Afghan migrants and their caregivers to enter Pakistan for medical treatment without travel documents.

For Pakistan, the Torkham border crossing is an important commercial artery and a trade route to Central Asian countries. But Pakistan has also accused the Afghan Taliban of harboring Pakistani militants whose cross-border attacks have fueled violence in the Islamic nation.

A statement issued by Baradar’s office on Wednesday said the Afghan Taliban told the Pakistani delegation that Pakistan “must provide necessary facilities to all passengers” on Torkham and another trade route south to Spin Boldak, which runs from Chaman in restive southwest Balochistan. province

Baradar said special facilities should be provided for the transport of patients requiring urgent medical care, according to the statement, adding that the Pakistani side promised to resolve these issues expeditiously.

The reopening of Torkham was a relief to traders and others on both sides who were jammed at the border for four days. It was also a sign of easing tensions between the two neighbours.

Border closures, cross-border firing and shelling are common occurrences along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

According to Pakistan’s foreign ministry, during Wednesday’s visit the Pakistani delegation also discussed “the growing threat of terrorism in the region”, particularly the Pakistani Taliban known as Tehreek-e Taliban-Pakistan and the Islamic State.

The Pakistani Taliban is a separate group, but allied with the Afghanistan Taliban, which seized power more than a year ago as US and NATO troops withdrew. The Taliban occupation of Afghanistan has encouraged the TTP, whose top leaders and fighters are hiding in the country.

The TTP has stepped up attacks in Pakistan in recent months, where security forces often raid their hideouts. In the latest operation in the northwestern district of Lakhi Marwat, security forces killed six Pakistani Taliban on Thursday, police said.


Faiz reports from Islamabad. Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed contributed to this story from Islamabad.

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