ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN - Pakistan will reopen a southwestern border crossing with Afghanistan for routine traffic on Thursday after days of closure, stranding thousands of travelers and trade convoys on both sides, officials said.
The Chaman border facility was closed about two weeks ago when Afghans staged an anti-Pakistan demonstration on their side and some angry protesters attacked the border gate and burned a Pakistani flag, according to officials in Islamabad.
A spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), which guards the Pakistan border, Wednesday cited “successful negotiations” between senior Pakistani and Afghan border authorities for agreeing to resume the traffic.
An official Pakistani statement said Afghan negotiators “condemned the August 18 incident” and promised to take preventive measures in future.
The two sides agreed to “pay due respect to each other testimonials” and hold a monthly flag meeting to address issues of mutual interest for ensuring a “peaceful environment.
Afghan and Pakistani traders said the border closure caused them millions of dollars in losses and urged both the governments to take steps to ensure uninterrupted movement in both directions.
There are four regular crossings between Afghanistan and Pakistan along their 2,600-kilometer frontier. But the Chaman and the northwestern Torkham border posts serve as the two main crossings for trade and travelers.
An estimated 50,000 people, mostly Afghans, travel across the two facilities each day in addition to hundreds of trucks carrying trading goods to landlocked Afghanistan.
Construction of a new gate at Torkham by Pakistan recently prompted deadly clashes between Afghan and Pakistani border forces, suspending traffic there for days.
The border tensions stem from a deterioration in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent months over mutual allegations of supporting terrorist attacks on each other’s soil.