The busiest frontier crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan has been closed to trade in the latest row over document rules for commercial vehicle drivers crossing the border.
Crossings between the two countries have been temporarily shut in recent months after Islamabad last year launched a massive operation against undocumented Afghans living in Pakistan and tightened document requirements for Afghans entering the country.
Both sides blamed the other for the latest shutdown at the Torkham crossing, which started late Friday night, according to officials on either side of the border.
“Torkham is closed to commercial truck drivers without visas from Pakistani authorities,” Afghan border official Abdul Jabbar Hekmat said in a statement on Friday.
Pakistani officials on Saturday denied a visa requirement had been imposed, saying the border had been shut when Afghan counterparts were informed truck drivers could only cross with a valid passport, a document many Afghans do not have.
“Following our updated policy, Afghan officials were informed last night that cargo drivers will only be allowed to enter our side if they possess a passport,” a Pakistani customs official told AFP.
He said this regulation had been agreed in past meetings between Afghan and Pakistani authorities on border rules.
“However, rather than adhering to the previously agreed-upon regulations, the Afghan border officials opted to close down border trade.”
Hundreds of trucks had been stranded at the crossing, a Pakistani security official told AFP, adding that the border was still open to pedestrians.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have had increasingly fraught relations in recent months, with Islamabad accusing the Taliban government of failing to root out militants staging attacks on Pakistan from Afghan soil — a claim Kabul has denied.
The Torkham crossing — equidistant between the capitals Islamabad and Kabul — was frequently shut last year, with tensions sometimes spilling over into armed clashes between border guards across the frontier.