Gunfire shuts down the main Afghan-Pakistani border crossing

Gunfire was reported early yesterday morning, but the Torkham border crossing was closed the previous evening. Afghanistan slams Pakistan for failing to set up facilities for “transit, sick people and passengers”. Pakistani minister raises the security issue at an international forum to the Taleban’s annoyance.

Kabul (AsiaNews) – Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities have closed the main border crossing with Pakistan at Torkham (Nangahar province), not far from Khyber Pass, after gunfire was reported in the area, stopping the movement of goods and people at the usually crowded transit point.

Islamabad had “promised to create facilities for transit, sick people and passengers,” but failed to live up “to their promises,” said Siddiqullah Quraishi, head of the local provincial Information Department.

Nevertheless, he added without going into details, the two sides were engaged in talks to solve the matter, noting that despite reports of violent clashes, the situation was under control.

Across the border in Pakistan, no one in the  military, police or government was immediately available for comment, but two local security officials confirmed both the border closure and gunfire incident.

The Torkham crossing is the main transit point for goods and people between the two countries, but it was apparently closed on Sunday before gunfire erupted on Monday.

Border clashes have at times closed the second most important crossing between the two countries, at Chaman to the south.

In fact, the two countries have been at loggerheads over the border for decades.

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference in Germany, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Sunday said that Taleban and jihadi infiltrators from Afghanistan pose a risk.

Soon after, a Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson replied urging Pakistan to raise issues in private and not at public forums.