Pakistan reopens Chaman border with Afghanistan

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Pakistan on Tuesday reopened a key border crossing with neighboring Afghanistan for trade and pedestrian movement after a month-long closure, officials reported.

Southwestern Chaman border – one of the two main crossings between the two neighbors – was closed by the Taliban last month after Islamabad rejected their demand for allowing the Afghan citizens to enter the Pakistani side only on the basis of their Afghan identity cards instead of other travel documents.

Since Oct. 5, trade and pedestrian movement remained closed between the two sides, causing heavy losses to the Afghan trade, especially exports of Afghanistan’s prized pomegranates.

Pakistan has long been a big market for Afghan pomegranates. Pakistan’s ambassador to Afghanistan, Mansoor Ahmad Khan, told local English daily Dawn that he had held a series of meetings in recent days with the Taliban officials, including Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, to resolve the row.

Both sides, he said, have agreed to facilitate the cross-border movement of people and trade vehicles on both sides, especially because it was the fruit harvest season in Afghanistan.

Pakistan also waived off visa processing charges for Afghan citizens up to Dec. 31, Khan tweeted on Tuesday, adding this is in pursuance of the decision of Prime Minister Imran Khan to “facilitate Afghan nationals’ travel to Pakistan.”

Footage aired on local broadcaster Geo News showed trucks loaded with fruits, grains, and other goods crossing into both sides of the border.

According to Pakistan Customs authorities, the border will remain open 24 hours for trade activities. Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan share 18 crossing points – the most frequently used are northwestern Torkham and Chaman. Torkham border was reopened on Sep. 14.

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