KHYBER: Pakistan and Afghanistan exchanged fire on the Torkham border on Monday, leaving a border guard injured.
The Afghan Taliban on Sunday shut the border crossing, accusing Pakistan of reneging on its commitments.
Irshad Momand, a district administration official in Landi Kotal told Dawn that Pakistan responded to “unprovoked” firing from the Afghan side.
People living near the border crossing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa confirmed that a heavy exchange of fire continued for over an hour.
Mr Momand said the injured Pakistani soldier was being treated at a hospital and his condition was stable.
On Sunday, Afghan authorities accused Islamabad of reneging on its commitments, without giving any further details.
The Afghan Taliban commissioner for Torkham said the border has been closed down for travel and transit trade. “Pakistan has not abided by its commitments and so the gateway has been shut down on the directions of (our) leadership,” Maulavi Mohammad Siddique said in a tweet.
According to unconfirmed media reports, the interim Afghan government was irked by an unannounced ban on the travel of Afghan patients seeking treatment in Pakistan.
However, Mr Momand added that the issue was being discussed at the diplomatic level between Islamabad and Kabul.
He said Pakistan was awaiting a “positive” response from Afghan officials to reopen the border crossing as it was closed from their side.
Distress for locals
Due to the precarious situation, the population around the border area has been shifted to Landi Kotal, Jamrud and Peshawar.
As the border crossing remained shut, locals complained of a shortage of essential goods even though markets remained open.
Jamshed Khan, a local custom clearing agent, told Dawn that trading activities have stopped, leaving at least 300 trucks stranded.
The trucks are loaded with perishable food items which were at risk of being destroyed if the closure persisted, he added.
The daily wagers and porters whose livelihood was linked with the trade held a protest in Landi Kotal on Monday and demanded immediate reopening of the border.
Farman Shinwari, who led the protest, said border closure has hit daily wage workers.
In Dec 2022, Afghan Taliban forces fired mortar shells across the Chaman border into Pakistan, killing one Pakistani civilian and injuring at least 16 other citizens. This incident followed a similar cross-border attack from the Afghan side on Dec 11 which claimed the lives of six Pakistani civilians and left 17 others injured, according to the Pakistani military.
A month ago in November, the border crossing in Chaman remained closed for more than a week after an armed suspect from the Afghan side opened fire on Pakistani security personnel, resulting in the martyrdom of one soldier and injuries to two.
Published in Dawn, February 21st, 2023