Torkham Border Crossing Closed Amidst Gunfire as Afghanistan-Pakistan Relations Deteriorate
TORKHAM, PAKISTAN – SEPTEMBER 19: Taliban and Pakistani security keep guard at Torkham border crossing as Afghans wait for the reopening of the border gate to enter Pakistan after Talibanâs takeover on September 19, 2021, in Torkham, Pakistan. Afghanistan, Pakistan Torkham border is still remaining closed as Afghan people waiting for it to reopen (Photo by Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

On Monday, the Torkham border crossing, the primary point of transit between Afghanistan and Pakistan, was closed. Local residents reported hearing gunfire near the normally bustling transit point. It is not clear whether Afghan or Pakistani authorities closed the border, but the move follows a sharp deterioration in relations between the Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

While media reports indicated that the border was closed on Sunday evening, no reason was given. However, disputes over the 2,600 km (1,615 mile) border have been a longstanding issue between the neighboring countries.

The Torkham border crossing serves as the main entry point for travellers and goods between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan. A resident of the Pakistani side, Mohammad Ali Shinwari, reported that the border had been closed late on Sunday, with gunfire heard early on Monday morning.

Clashes on the border have been commonplace for years, dating back to the two-decade rule of Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government and continuing since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021. Tensions between Afghan and Pakistani security forces have also resulted in the closure of the second most important crossing between the two countries, at Chaman to the south.

While Pakistani officials were not immediately available for comment, the country’s foreign minister warned at a security conference in Germany on Sunday that militancy from Afghanistan could threaten global security. In response, a Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson urged Pakistan to raise issues in private rather than at public forums.

Despite the rising tensions, the Taliban foreign ministry assured that its territory would not be used against other countries, particularly against its neighbors. The closure of the Torkham border crossing remains in effect, with no indications of a resolution anytime soon.

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