Taliban reopen key trade route with Pakistan

Peshawar: Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers reopened a key border crossing with Pakistan Thursday, allowing thousands of trucks carrying desperately needed food and other items to creep forward for the first time in days, officials said.

The jam at the Torkham crossing between the two nations began to ease after Islamabad sent a high-level delegation to Kabul to discuss a range of issues, including the Taliban’s closure of the border on Sunday.

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.

Thousands of vehicles, some carrying fresh produce like vegetables and fruit, began moving along the Khyber Pass in northwest Pakistan Thursday, said Ziaul Haq Sarhadi, a director at the Pakistan-Afghanistan joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

The latest development comes a day after Pakistani Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif made an unannounced visit to Kabul, where he met with senior Taliban officials, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban-appointed deputy prime minister for economic affairs.

The group discussed the closure of Torkham, which the Taliban said Sunday was shut because of immigration issues faced by sick Afghan people on the Pakistani side of the border, according to officials on both sides.

The Taliban government said they closed the Torkham border crossing because of Pakistan’s alleged refusal to allow Afghan immigrants and their caretakers to enter Pakistan for medical care without travel documents.

For Pakistan, the Torkham border crossing is a vital commercial artery and a trade route to Central Asian countries. But Pakistan has also accused the Afghan Taliban of providing sanctuary for Pakistani militants whose cross-border attacks have led to a spike in violence in this Islamic nation.

A statement issued by Baradar’s office Wednesday said the Afghan Taliban told the Pakistani delegation that “necessary facilities should be provided for all passengers” at Torkham and also at Spin Boldak, another trade route located to the south, across from Chaman in Pakistan’s restive southwestern Baluchistan province.

Image courtesy of (Image: Daily Herald)

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