DERA ISMAIL KHAN: Afghan authorities have closed the Angoor Adda border crossing in South Waziristan hours after it was handed over to them, it emerged on Tuesday.
The neighbouring country also claimed about 10km inside Pakistan as its territory and demanded its control, officials and sources said.
The border closure has caused great inconvenience to thousands of people, including women and children, who have found themselves stranded in the scorching heat amid hundreds of truck and trailers loaded with goods disallowed by the Afghan authorities to cross the border.
“We have taken over the control of Bab-i-Waziristan post [Angoor Adda border crossing] where the Afghan flag has been hoisted to herald the development,” an Afghan diplomatic official posted at the post told Dawn.
“However, the border has been closed till further orders from Kabul. Right now no one was allowed from our side for any entry or exit. The Afghan forces now guard the crossing round-the-clock.”
When asked about the reason behind the closure of the crossing just after taking over its control, he refused to comment saying he was not the official of the “ranking high enough to respond to such a query. The decision to keep the gate closed has come from Kabul and we are following it till further orders”.
Pakistan handed over the contentious Angoor Adda border crossing in South Waziristan to Afghan authorities on Saturday. The Inter-Services Public Relations called the move a “strategic intent to improve border management”.
The gesture was envisioned to bring momentum to the establishment of peace and stability along the Pak-Afghan border.
“On both sides of the border, most people belong to the Ahmedzai Wazir tribe,” said a tribal elder. “We came to know through our contacts in Afghanistan that they [Afghan forces] have told their people that they would not open the border until they get the control of the area inside Pakistan.”
More than five-decade-old border crossing facility at Angoor Adda, 35km off South Waziristan’s regional headquarters of Wana, has been a bone of contention between the two countries ever since it was built nearly a year ago. The gate and the compound were manned by Pakistan Army personnel until recently.
On July 1 last year, the issue had led to an exchange of fire between the two sides, resulting in the death of an Afghan police border guard and injuries to two Pakistani soldiers. The Afghan government had summoned Pakistan’s envoy to lodge a protest over the incident.
The recent accord between the two sides brought relief to a large extent to people on both sides of border, but the closure has faded all their hopes away.
Published in Dawn, May 25th, 2016