VOA News / June 18, 2016
ISLAMABAD – Pakistan reopened the busy Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan for traffic Saturday, a week after deadly clashes between the two countries prompted the closure, stranding thousands of travelers and trade convoys on both sides.
Pakistani officials say Afghans with valid travel documents are being allowed to cross while trucks carrying trading goods have also resumed their cross-border journey.
The border skirmishes erupted over Pakistan’s construction of a gate to prevent terrorist and other illegal movement. Afghan authorities insisted the construction was taking place in a disputed territory and violated mutual understandings.
Islamabad rejected the allegations, saying the facility was being built 37 meters inside Pakistan.
Officials say the gunfire left at least four soldiers dead and more than 40 people wounded, including civilians, on both sides.
Afghanistan and Pakistan blamed each other for initiating the conflict.
The firing subsided after Islamabad and Kabul agreed to seek a settlement through diplomatic means.
The Afghan government announced Friday the deputy foreign minister, Hekmat Khalil Karzai will travel to Pakistan “very soon” to discuss the Torkham crossing issue.
A Pakistan Foreign Ministry statement said Saturday the Afghan delegation will visit Islamabad Monday.
“Pakistan welcomes the visit and looks forward to meaningful deliberations through a constructive engagement between the two sides with a view to promoting bilateral relations as well as peace and stability of our two countries, and the region,” it said.
Businessmen in landlocked Afghanistan say they have suffered losses amounting to $10 million due to the weeklong suspension of the traffic at the Torkham crossing.
Nearly 60 percent of imported goods enter Afghanistan through the border crossing, say traders. Some 2,000 trucks carrying commodities and other goods cross the Torkham point every day.