The average trade and movement of people between Pakistan and Afghanistan fully resumed on Saturday after the two sides reopened a key border crossing that was shut nearly a week ago by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, stranding people and thousands of trucks carrying food and essential items.
The Torkham crossing reopened for the first time since a deadly grenade attack that injured eight Pakistani soldiers and seven Afghans on Sunday. The reopening was welcomed by traders who said it had been closed for more than three weeks and caused losses of millions of rupees.
Traders at the Torkham terminal were hopeful that the reopening would allow them to begin their regular trade activities. Instead, they had been forced to wait in long queues for hours outside the Federal Investigation Agency and customs offices on both sides of the border to get their travel documents cleared.
A woman who had traveled to Torkham from Peshawar and Landikotal with her son, who is undergoing treatment in Afghanistan, told EFE on the condition of anonymity that she was hopeful that the reopening of the crossing would help them to return home sooner than later. She had been waiting four days with her family when the grenade attack happened, and now she hoped that the reopening of the border would allow them to reach their native country soon.
Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, director of the Pakistan-Afghanistan joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said that up to 6,000 trucks had been stuck on both sides of the border because of the closure, causing severe problems for Afghan traders. He said that many trucks were loaded with goods destined for Central Asia and that the halt was affecting the supply chain.
He added that the reopening of the Torkham crossing would also provide a massive boost to the economy of Afghanistan. The country has relied on cargo traffic from Pakistan for much of its needs, most of which went through Torkham.
It also serves as a vital transit point for goods from Pakistan to Central Asia, according to Sarhadi. The reopening of Torkham was expected to benefit both Pakistan and Afghanistan and the countries of Central Asia that share the border.
The reopening is likely to help defuse tensions between the two countries that have worsened in recent months, with violence between the neighbors threatening to spill over into each other’s territories. The Afghan embassy in Islamabad announced the reopening on Twitter, and officials at the Torkham crossing confirmed it.
Despite the reopening, security remains tight on both sides of the border. Cross-border fire and shootouts are common along the 2,600-kilometer (1.5-mile) frontier.