Pakistan closes key crossing with Afghanistan after cross-border attack
Iran Press TV
Wednesday, 29 January 2020 1:40 PM
Pakistani authorities close a key border crossing with Afghanistan for several hours after mortar bombs land in Pakistani territory from across the border, local officials say.
A Pakistani official said the Torkham crossing was shut for at least 10 hours on Wednesday after mortar bombs fired from Afghanistan landed in Pakistan territory.
"The border is closed for investigation purposes," media outlets quoted Mahmood Aslam Wazir, deputy district commissioner of the area on the Pakistani side, as saying.
But an Afghan official denied that Afghan forces had fired into Pakistan.
Attaullah Khogyani, spokesman for the governor of Afghanistan's Nangarhar Province, suggested that Pakistani forces had fired the mortar bombs as an excuse to close the border. "In the past, Pakistan has played the same game whenever they want to close the Torkham crossing."
The Torkham crossing is the main trade link between the uneasy neighbors.
Pakistani and Afghan officials said that hundreds of vehicles that had been stuck on both sides began moving across the border on Wednesday afternoon after the crossing was reopened.
Pakistan and Afghanistan regularly accuse each other of sheltering their enemy insurgents.
Kabul blames elements in the Pakistani spy agency, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), for supporting the Taliban militants. Islamabad blames the Afghan government for giving refuge to militants on its side of the border.
The two sides also accuse one another of not doing enough to stop militants engaging in cross-border attacks.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani said on January 23 that Pakistan continued to give sanctuary to an insurgent group that helps the Taliban in its war against Kabul and the United States.
Ghani made the remarks one day after Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan told reporters at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that the Haqqani network had no activities or bases in Pakistan.
The Haqqani network operates on both the Pakistani and Afghan side of the border. It has been behind some deadly attacks against civilians, security forces and NATO forces in the Afghan capital over the past decade.
Afghanistan has been gripped by insecurity since the United States and its allies invaded the country as part of Washington's so-called war on terror in 2001. Many parts of the country remain plagued by militancy despite the presence of foreign troops.
Senior civilian and military officials in Islamabad have frequently said the US government is making Pakistan a scapegoat to cover Washington's failure in Afghanistan.
During the past 19 years, the Taliban militants have been conducting terrorist attacks across the country, killing and displacing civilians.
In addition, the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq, has recently managed to take recruits from Afghan Taliban defectors.
The militants are now launching attacks on both Pakistani and Afghan soil.
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