KHYBER: Torkham border remained closed for the third consecutive day on Tuesday as a deadlock over starting a dialogue prevailed between border officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Assistant commissioner Irshad Momand told Dawn that they were ready to ‘two steps forward’ if a formal request for the reopening of the border was made by the Afghan side.

“They (the Afghan government) unilaterally closed the border crossing and as a matter of principle they shall initiate a dialogue if they want the border to be reopened,” Mr Momand argued.

He said that additional forces deployed at the border after Monday’s firing incident had been withdrawn while the Afghan side too reciprocated by pulling back their reinforcement on Tuesday.

“It is a positive sign and we hope that better sense will prevail,” he stated.

Meanwhile, sources told Dawn that some informal contacts were made with the Afghan Taliban authorities, urging them to send a delegation for talks.

The local trading community and transporters have called for immediate reopening of the border crossing as edible goods worth millions of rupees were at the risk of decomposing.

Transporter union representative Haji Azeem­ullah Shinwari and local clearing agent Qari Nazeemullah said hundreds of vehicles were parked at about 17km of roadside stretch from Katakushtha to Torkham, which also posed a security risk for transporters.

The reason for the border closure by Taliban on Sunday was not entirely clear, though officials on both sides said they are in discussions to resolve the issue, Reuters adds.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2023

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