Chaman-Spin Boldak border reopens after nearly month-long closure

Published November 2, 2021
Pakistan and and Taliban flags flutter on their respective border sides as seen from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman. — AFP/File
Pakistan and and Taliban flags flutter on their respective border sides as seen from the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman. — AFP/File

The Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing point between Pakistan and Afghanistan was reopened on Tuesday, nearly a month after the Taliban closed it claiming that traders, patients and passengers were "facing difficulties".

The reopening follows an agreement reached between Pakistani and Afghan authorities a day earlier.

Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl leader Qari Mohammad Aslam, who participated in the meeting, said that citizens of Qila Abdullah and Chaman in Pakistan and Kandahar in Afghanistan would be able to cross the border on the basis of their identity cards.

Afghan patients would also be allowed entry into Pakistan, he shared.

Former president of Chaman Chamber of Commerce Jalat Khan Achakzai said the border crossing would remain open for trade throughout the day while pedestrians would be able to cross between 7am and 5pm.

A customs official posted at the crossing told Dawn.com that the Afghan authorities have removed cement blocks that were placed in front of the gates. "[Other] customs officials have been called back on duty because we have received orders to restart trade operations with Afghanistan," he added.

"As a result of a meeting between border authorities, Afghanistan and Pakistan have decided to open [the] Chaman-Boldak crossing from tomorrow for pedestrians as well as trade. The two sides will now look forward to ensuring smooth operations of the important border crossing," Pakistan's Ambassador to Afghanistan Mansoor Khan told Dawn.com on Monday.

The envoy said he had recently called on Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi and, among other issues, they had discussed the need for opening the Boldak-Chaman crossing at the earliest, ensuring the facilitation of cross-border movement of people and trade vehicles on both sides, especially because it was the fruit harvest season in Afghanistan.

"We also had discussions about following up on the recent visit of the foreign minister of Pakistan to Kabul, which was extremely productive. We remain closely engaged with Afghan authorities for facilitating the movement of people at all border crossings," he said.

The Taliban government's deputy spokesman Bilal Karimi also confirmed to Dawn.com that both sides had reached an understanding that passengers should not face difficulties.

"Similarly, imports and exports via Chaman-Spin Boldak should continue without any hurdles. Both sides have also agreed that there should be no problem in the transit trade. We have held discussions on the issue and I am confident that a permanent solution will be found," Karimi said in an audio message.

Weeks-long closure

The Taliban had closed the key crossing along the frontier with Afghanistan in Balochistan on October 5, claiming that "traders, patients and passengers were facing difficulties [at the border]", but Pakistan was unwilling to resolve problems despite their efforts.

Pakistani border authorities, meanwhile, maintained that the Taliban officials had not officially informed them about the reason for closing the border at Chaman, according to a Dawn report.

Another report on the matter stated that the Taliban were demanding that people from Afghanistan should be allowed to cross into Pakistan by showing their Afghan identity cards instead of being asked to show other travel documents.

At least four meetings were held between Pakistani and Afghan border authorities to address the issue but no result was yielded until now.

Moreover, a committee comprising senior civil and military officials in Balochistan was formed last month to address key issues related to cross-border movement at the Chaman-Spin Boldak gate.

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