Thousands of trucks stranded as Torkham border crossing remains closed

Thousands of trucks remain stranded at the Torkham border crossing, a critical point between Afghanistan and Pakistan, as reported Monday by Taliban officials. This follows the closure of border points due to a dispute over documentation requirements for commercial drivers.

Islamabad’s recent tightening of documentation for Afghan nationals, part of a broader crackdown on undocumented Afghans in Pakistan, has led to periodic closures of the crossings in recent months.

The Torkham crossing, vital for trade, was shut to commercial vehicles Friday night, leaving about 3,000 trucks marooned on both sides of the border, said Khan Jan Alakozai, co-chairman of the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry, to AFP.

“This closure is causing not only financial losses to traders but also a spike in market prices, particularly for perishable food items,” Alakozai added.

The cause of the closure is a point of contention between the two countries, with both sides attributing blame to the other.

For three consecutive days, the Torkham crossing has barred cars and transit containers, leading to significant losses for merchants and drivers. Many reported rotting vegetables and fruits, underlining the severe economic impact of the political tensions.

Pakistan’s recent policy to deny entry to drivers without passports has exacerbated the situation, leaving hundreds of vehicles immobilized.

Drivers, including Abdul Samad and Abdul Jabbar, expressed frustration and appealed for human rights intervention.

Abdul Rahim Bazargan from Afghanistan urged Pakistan to separate politics from business matters, highlighting the widespread impact on civilians and traders.

On Pakistan’s side of the crossing, drivers face harsh conditions, struggling with cold weather and dwindling supplies.

Nasir Ahmad, a veteran driver on this route, stressed that the policies of both countries should not adversely affect their livelihoods.

The Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Chamber of Commerce reports that 800 to 900 vehicles and containers are stalled on both sides following the crossing’s closure.

Drivers now await the reopening of the gate, hoping for a resolution to the political challenges between Pakistan and Afghanistan.