Taliban authorities have shut down the major border between Afghanistan and Pakistan, an Afghan official declared on Monday, and locals in the region reported hearing gunfire near the usually busy border crossing point. The Taliban’s provincial information office stated that the Torkham border crossing, near the Khyber Pass, had been closed for all travelers and trade. According to Siddiqullah Quraishi, head of the Afghan Province of Nangahar’s information department, the closure was due to Pakistan not following through on their promises to provide facilities for transit, sick people, and passengers. He did not give further details, but said that both sides were talking to try and find a resolution and denied that any violent clashes had taken place, saying the situation was under control.
Pakistani military, police, and government spokespeople were not available for comment, but two Pakistani security officials in the area confirmed that the border had been closed and there had been some gunfire exchanged. The Torkham border point is the main transit point between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan.
Mohammad Ali Shinwari, a resident of Landi Kotal on the Pakistani side, said the border had been closed on Sunday night and shooting started early on Monday. “When we heard gunshots in the morning, we were scared and thought that the troops of the two countries might have started fighting,” he said.
Clashes on the border have been occurring for years, both during the two-decade rule of Afghanistan’s U.S.-backed government and since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in 2021. At times, clashes between Afghan and Pakistani security forces have closed the second most important crossing between the two countries, Chaman to the south.
Pakistan’s foreign minister said at a security conference in Germany on Sunday that the risks of militancy stemming from Afghan soil could affect the world. The Taliban foreign ministry spokesperson then said that Pakistan should address these issues privately and not publicly. The foreign ministry also said that the Taliban would not allow its territory to be used against other countries, especially its neighbors.