Pakistan says Afghanistan building ‘unlawful structures’ along tense border

Pakistan accuses Taliban government of ‘indiscriminate firing’ at the key Torkham border crossing, closed for nearly a week.

Taliban security personnel stand guard near the closed gates of Torkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan [Shafiullah Kakar/AFP]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan has accused Afghanistan’s Taliban government of constructing “unlawful structures” at a key border crossing, calling it a violation of territorial sovereignty.

The Torkham border crossing in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been closed since Wednesday after a deadly exchange of fire between their forces. Hundreds of trucks carrying essential goods have since been stranded on both sides.

In a statement on Monday, Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing” by Afghan forces led to the closure of the most important trade route between the two countries.

“On the 6th of September, instead of a peaceful resolution, Afghan troops resorted to indiscriminate firing, targeting Pakistan military posts, damaging the infrastructure at the Torkham Border Terminal, and putting the lives of both Pakistani and Afghan civilians at risk, when they were stopped from erecting such unlawful structures,” it said.

The statement came a day after talks between the two countries on reopening the Torkham crossing failed.

On Saturday, the Taliban government accused the Pakistani security forces of firing on its troops when they were repairing an “old security post”. It said Islamabad was “causing hindrances and delays” in opening the transit point.

“[The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] reminds the Pakistani side that such actions are detrimental to the trade of Afghanistan, region and national economy of Pakistan, which is heavily dependent the most on exports in the current situation,” said the Afghan statement.

Pakistan has alleged the Afghan forces were “illegally” building a new border post, which led to last week’s exchange of fire between the guards. The Taliban said two of its guards were killed in the firing.

Trucks loaded with supplies to leave for Afghanistan are seen stranded at Torkham [Fayaz Aziz/Reuters]

The Torkham border closure came as relations between the two countries remain frosty, with Pakistan repeatedly urging Afghanistan to control the movement of armed attackers and stop them from entering its territory.

Afghanistan denies the allegation that it allows its soil to be used by armed groups to launch attacks on other nations.

Pakistan’s allegation follows a surge in armed attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces since the Taliban came to power in 2021.

Most such attacks are claimed by the outlawed Pakistan Taliban, also known by the acronym TTP, which is ideologically aligned with the Taliban in Afghanistan.

On the day of the Torkham firing, TTP claimed to have attacked two military checkposts in remote Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing four Pakistani soldiers. At least 12 TTP fighters also died in the attacks.

Source: Al Jazeera