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Pakistan Reopens Border With Afghanistan For Two Days

Pakistani soldiers check the identity of citizens returning from Afghanistan at the border crossing in Chaman on March 7.
Pakistani soldiers check the identity of citizens returning from Afghanistan at the border crossing in Chaman on March 7.

Amid bilateral tensions, Pakistan has temporarily reopened two main border crossings with its western neighbor, Afghanistan.

Islamabad closed the border last month after blaming Pakistani militants hiding in Afghanistan for a string of attacks targeting civilians and soldiers across Pakistan.

Pakistan officials say hundreds of Afghans and Pakistanis with valid travel documents can cross the Chaman and Torkham border crossings for two days on March 7 and 8.

Chaman connects the southwestern Pakistani province of Balochistan with Kandahar in southern Afghanistan, while Torkham is the middle of a highway in the historic Khyber Pass, which straddles northwest Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan.

The measure is aimed at allowing stranded visitors to return to their countries. It will also ease the backlog of vehicles trying to cross over.

Other less frequented border crossings between the two countries will remain closed.

Fayyaz Khan, a Pakistani border official at Torkham, said hundreds of Pakistanis and Afghans have returned to their countries since the border reopened.

"So far, no trade activity between Pakistan and Afghanistan has resumed," he told the Associated Press.

Hukam Dad, a security official in Chaman said hundreds of visitors from both countries were crossing into their countries on March 7.

Islamabad shut the crossings on February 17 after authorities blamed the Islamic State and Pakistani Taliban militants hiding in Afghanistan for a wave of attacks. Hundreds of civilians and soldiers were killed in suicide and roadside bombings across Pakistan since the second week of February.

Pakistan has mostly used border closures to pressure landlocked Afghanistan. Islamabad is now demanding that Kabul act against militants it claims are targeting Pakistan from sanctuaries within Afghanistan.

But Afghanistan rejects such accusations and claims that Islamabad is sheltering and bankrolling the Afghan Taliban and other insurgent groups.

The reopening came a day after the Pakistani military said it lost five soldiers in to a cross-border militant attack from Afghanistan.

The Inter Services Public Relations, the Pakistani military’s media wing, said 10 militants were killed in the March 6 attacks. It said fighting happened near military posts in Mohmand tribal region, which borders Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar and Kunar provinces.

– with reporting by Reuters and AP

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