Pak-Afghan border crisis

By: Sajid Ali

[The writer of this article is student of political science at QAU]

Pakistan had remained closed its border with Afghanistan more than three weeks with an opening only for 48 hrs. The border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is 2240 km and is called Durand line. It was established in 1896 according to an agreement of 1893. The border is actually a demarcation which is drawn by British government and Afghan dictator of that time Abdur Rehman khan to fix their limits of influence and improve diplomatic relations and trade. In fact British considered Afghanistan as a buffer zone between Soviet Union and British Empire. After the independence of Pakistan the Durand line now became a border between Pakistan and Afghanistan. It is a long line which cuts the Pashtun tribal areas, Baluchistan regions, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and also the Gilgit Baltistan from the Afghanistan. It is a porous border because it is long border and the people on the both sides have deep relations and trade with each other’s. The people on both sides are mostly Pashtuns and they have the same caste, race, culture and religion so in spite of the demarcation they still have deep affectations for each other’s. Pakistan closed the border with Afghanistan after the brutal attack on a shrine on 16 Feb. 2017 in which 88 lives have lost and also many attacks which happened in the metropolitan cities of Pakistan. Pakistani state official claims that the attackers came from Afghanistan. As a result of that the border will closed until terror concerns addressed. The border closing produces humanitarian crisis and economic crisis on the both sides of the border. As the people of living in Afghanistan near the border mostly came to Peshawar for medical and business and trade and the same the traders from Pakistan have business there in Afghanistan so that is heavily affected. The people who had legal visas or documents cannot cross the border. But if we see the border is porous and it is long enough to control may be the terrorist came through another ways but the whole problem is for the legal people. Khan Jan Alokozay, deputy chairman of afghan chamber of commerce said, that due to closing of border the traders are losing about $4 million a day. Pakistani traders are losing about 80% as in winter Pakistan exports fruits and vegetables to Afghanistan. There is in about 30-40% increase in the prices of vegetables and fruits. Afghanistan officials said that there is an increase in the prices of vegetables and fruits but the price of other goods has unaffected because Afghanistan also import from Iran and central Asian countries.

Hundreds of trucks and vehicles have been stranded on both sides of the border and the traders urge to find other routes to transport their goods. As about 24000 Afghans and 900 Pakistani cross the border opening on 7 and 8 march. The Torkham and Chaman crossings are major arteries for the $1.5 billion in trade and commerce between the two countries and about 15000 Afghans used Torkham cross every day. Pakistani state official claims that Afghanistan have a back support of India and most of the attacks which happened in Pakistan was launch from Afghanistan soil and is backed by India but here the question is that instead of closing of border with India which is the mastermind of these terrorists attacks why Pakistan only closed the border with Afghanistan? This is the question which stuck most of the people. Mostly people from Afghanistan depend on the Khyber pakhtunkhwa for medical and trade. So it is economically very good for Pakistan and also for those people because it is cheap and easier for them. The people on both sides have deep relations because of their ethnic similarity and which affected them more. Moreover it produces hatred in the hearts of the people because of the economic loss and difficulty for them. The issue of Pak-Afghan border is more if anything happened in Pakistan or if there is some issue of Pakistan with America Pakistan closed the border with Afghanistan as before happened such as the after the attack on salala check post and many other events. To conclude the relation between Pakistan and Afghanistan is very important to promote peace in the region. Both the governments need cooperation especially militarily to counter the terrorism. Instead of blaming each other it is the time to stand side by side and play our role in the war against terrorism which is cancer for the region. Moreover, people to people contacts should be established which would ensure peace and tranquility.