Sharif orders immediate reopening of Pak-Afghan border

Aizaz_Ahmed

Sharif ordered that the border should be reopened immediately "as a goodwill gesture", the statement said.

The busy border was closed last month for an indefinite period following a string of deadly militant attacks for which Pakistan accused terrorists hiding in Afghanistan. Pakistan, though, accuses its northwestern neighbour of allowing Pakistani Taliban elements to operate in Nangarhar and other provinces.

The prime minister reiterated his resolve to establish a strong partnership between Pakistan and Russian Federation in all fields, as this cooperation would positively contribute towards promoting peace and stability in the region.

There has been no information from either Kabul or Islamabad that any insurgents have been handed over.

Sharif asserted that prolonged closure of the Pak-Afghan border was against the interests of the people and the economy of the two countries.

The statement added that PM Nawaz Sharif hopes that the Afghan government would take measures to address the reasons for which the border was closed.

Speaking on this occasion, Torkham Customs Clearing Agents Association president Hayatullah Shinwari decried the unilateral decision of closure of all borders with Afghanistan, especially the Torkham crossing, saying it had rendered thousands of local residents unemployed.

The protracted border closure has cost businesses on both sides tens of millions of dollars and fueled bilateral tensions. He said the timing was auspicious as people in Afghanistan are preparing to celebrate the Persian New Year of Nawroz on Tuesday.

The deputy spokesman of the Afghan foreign ministry, Khairullah Azad, said that closing borders "can't be the solution to problems and can't help us fight terrorism - that needs a strong commitment and of course, practical action".

On the call of all Torkham custom clearance agents of Torkham, a large number of custom agents, traders, transporters and political party leaders gathered at Landiktoal bazaar and hold protest demonstration demanding the immediate reopening of Torkham border.

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