Pakistan ‘surprised’ by Taliban’s statement on Torkham crossing closure

Torkham crossing, Nangarhar province. File photo.

Pakistan’s foreign ministry spokesman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said on Monday that the Taliban’s reaction to the closing of Torkham crossing was a “surprise” and claimed that the “unprovoked firing by Afghan border security forces invariably emboldens the terrorist elements” which are “enjoying sanctuaries inside Afghanistan.”

On Sunday, the Taliban’s foreign ministry released a statement saying that the closure of Torkham crossing and the firing of weapons on Taliban forces by the Pakistani military was against good neighborly relations.

On Wednesday, Taliban and Pakistani forces clashed at the crossing. Pakistan subsequently closed the crossing on Wednesday to all travelers and trucks.

Meanwhile, Baloch said in Monday’s statement that Islamabad cannot accept the “construction of any structures by the Interim Afghan Government” inside its territory since these violate its sovereignty.

“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,” the statement read.

Meanwhile, the Interior Minister of Pakistan’s caretaker government claimed at a press conference that fighters involved in a recent attack by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) came from Afghanistan.

He urged the Taliban to remain committed to the Doha agreement and to not allow any groups to threaten other countries from Afghanistan.

“This is too early to say whether Afghans were among them, or they were just the TTP. The issue is who attacked us? They are all terrorists for us. Whoever attacks us, we will respond to them. You will see our response,” he said.

At least one Taliban fighter was killed, and two others were wounded in the clash which broke out between the Taliban forces and Pakistani border guards last Wednesday.

Baloch said that the Taliban Foreign Ministry’s statement included some “irrelevant comments and unsolicited advice about Pakistan’s economy and foreign trade.”

For the last several decades, she said, Pakistan has facilitated Afghan transit trade and will continue to do so.

“However, Pakistan cannot allow the misuse of the transit trade agreement,” she added.