Social Impact of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Shutdown

The Taliban and Pakistani officials have not reached an agreement on reopening the Torkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, which has been closed for over two months due to a requirement for Afghan drivers to have passports and visas.

The closure has caused significant commercial losses in both countries, with up to 400 vehicles carrying oranges and tangerines, damaging farmers and businesses. Straddled truckers, who have no food or water to wash themselves, are urging Islamabad to show some leniency.

The closure follows a visit by Pakistani Islamist politician Maulana Fazlur Rehman to Kabul last week, which included a meeting with the Taliban’s supreme leader in Afghanistan, Haibatullah Akhundzada, in an attempt to revive strained ties between the two former allies. The Torkham border crossing is the busiest border crossing between the two countries.

Pakistan has expelled over half a million undocumented Afghans since October due to the Taliban’s failure to control the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban. Islamabad blames the group for escalating attacks on security forces and accuses the Taliban-led government of providing shelter to TTP militants. Pakistan is also attempting to impose regulated cross-border movement on Afghans and ethnic Pashtuns living along the shared 19th-century Durand Line border between the two countries.

This move has been met with backlash from Kabul and the Pashtun minority communities affected by the border closure. The Ahmadzai Wazir tribe, who live on both sides of the border, is demanding unrestricted travel and improved trade facilities. Islamabad’s policy to rescind their century-old rights to cross the border using identity documents has also sparked tensions among other Pashtun communities.

Chaman, a town in Balochistan, has been protesting the requirement of travel documents since October 21. A protest leader, Ghosullah, plans to turn the protest into a hunger strike if demands are not met by January 31. However, provincial information minister Jan Achakzai confirmed that Islamabad will enforce its decision to require travel documents for all crossing the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

AfghanistanAfghanistan-Pakistan BorderBorder ShutdownPakistanSocial Impact of the Afghanistan-Pakistan Border Shutdown