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Pakistan reopens border with Afghanistan for two days amid rising tensions

An Afghan policeman keeps watch at a checkpoint. Photograph: (Reuters)

Reuters Peshawar, Pakistan Mar 07, 2017, 07.10 AM (IST)

Nearly three weeks after Pakistan shut its borders with Afghanistan, Islamabad decided to re-open it for two days in order to allow through Afghans with valid visas. 

The same will apply for Pakistanis who travelled to Afghanistan on valid visas and wish to return. 

The border crossings at Torkham and Chaman will remain open on 7th & 8th March 2017. 

The decision comes after the situation on the border had become increasingly tense. Hundreds of trucks were amassing at the checkpoints waiting to cross and many of them were carrying perishable goods, mostly fruit. 

Pakistan had decided to shut the borders after accusing Afghanistan of not being capable to to properly secure its frontiers and thus indirectly allowing the terrorists commando who killed more than 130 people at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine.  

 

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Asad Mansoor, a spokesman for Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility, saying it was part of a campaign launched last month to target "enemies of Islam" across Pakistan 

Afghanistan has denied all allegations. 

The two countries routinely accuse each other to shelter and indirectly help terrorists. 

A Pakistani foreign official said the decision to open the border for two days was taken "In order to provide an opportunity to those nationals of Afghanistan who had come to Pakistan on valid visas, and wish to return to their country." 

Relations between the two countries are currently at a low level due to continuous exchange of fore on the frontiers. 

Pakistan's military said on Monday five Pakistani soldiers were killed in attacks on northwestern border checkpoints launched by militants based in Afghanistan. 

According to a Pakistani senior security official, dozens of militants from across the border stormed security posts ‎in Pakistan's Mohmand Agency district on Sunday night. 

The Afghan government had no immediate response to the Pakistani statements. 

Pakistan summoned the deputy head of the Afghan embassy in Islamabad to protest against the raid. 

The two countries share an extremely porous border, very difficult top control due to the heavy presence of militarized terrorist groups. 

(Reuters)
 

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