Afghanistan-Pakistan border dispute escalates as both countries allege indiscriminate attacks on border guards – JURIST

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Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border dispute over the Torkham Border Crossing flared up over the weekend as both Pakistan and Afghanistan claimed the other indiscriminately fired on border patrol forces. Pakistan closed the Torkham Border Crossing in the middle of last week after alleging that Afghanistan constructed unapproved buildings on the border. According to Afghan officials, the closure occurred after Pakistani forces opened fire at the border, which they say led to the deaths of one Taliban border guard and a civilian.

The Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (AMFA) in a statement released Saturday said:

The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls the closure of Torkham gate and opening fire on Afghan security forces, actions against good neighborliness. The government of Pakistan closed the Torkham gate following the Pakistani security forces opened fire on the Afghan security forces while they were busy repairing an old security post having been built several years back.

The statement went on to condemn the closure, stating that it was negatively affecting trade and commerce and that it was also blocking travelers from attending important family events.

The Pakistan Foreign Ministry (PFM) responded to the AMFA statement Monday, writing:

Pakistan cannot accept the construction of any structures by 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.

PFM spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch stated during a weekly press briefing Friday, “The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan should be a border of peace and amity between the countries.”

The Torkham Border crossing is the busiest border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan has temporarily closed the border several times, most recently in 2021 after the Taliban seized territory on the Afghanistan side of the border crossing during the offensive that led to Taliban control of Afghanistan.

The Torkham border clashes occurred mere hours after a group of militants crossed from Afghanistan into Pakistan, allegedly attacking two Pakistani security outposts, with the militants then crossing the border back into Afghanistan. Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Afghanistan has denied that the alleged attacks originated from Afghanistan. A Pakistani official told Voice of America (VOA) news that Afghanistan and Pakistan have been meeting to resolve the border conflict and concerns over the TTP and security, with the official stating, “[W]hile the Taliban condemn Islamic State terrorist attacks in Pakistan, they maintain a stoic silence when the TTP conducts its attacks in Pakistan.”

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