Afghan Pakistan border re-opened

Afghan Pakistan border re-opened
On the 20th of March 2017, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced his plans to re-open the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The announcement comes only a month after he ordered..
Why did PM Nawaz Sharif re-open the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan?
 
On the 20th of March 2017, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced his plans to re-open the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
The announcement comes only a month after he ordered the border to be closed and it’ll be effective immediately.
Pakistan chose to close the two main border crossings of Torkham at the infamous Khyber Pass, and Chaman in Baluchistan province. Torkham and Chaman sit on the "Durand Line”.
It was created in 1896 by the British but is still disputed by Afghanistan, who do not officially recognise it as an international border. Torkham sits between Jalalabad in Afghanistan and Peshawar in Pakistan; while Chaman sits between Quetta in Pakistan and Kandahar in Afghanistan. 
 

Why did Pakistan close the border?

Torkham and Chaman were closed due to a barrage of attacks from Terrorists in Pakistan beginning the 12th of February. The attacks were all over the country from Mohmand in the north all the way to Sehwan in the south.  In the following week over 110 people were killed and Pakistan has accused Afghanistan of sheltering the perpetrators. They are believed to be members of the Pakistani Taliban.
Afghanistan adamantly denies this and says that Pakistan is guilty of constantly turning a blind eye to the terrorism growing within the country, they also accused Pakistan of sheltering Anti-Afghan terror groups who train in the country and infiltrate Afghanistan. 
 

What was the effect of the closure of the border?

The immediate impact was an inconvenience for nationals travelling to Pakistan for medical tourism and various trades that are reliant on the border crossings. Over 15,000 Afghans daily use the two border crossings to get across and trade between the nations means many Afghan businessmen were stuck on the Pakistani side unwillingly.
Pakistan’s recurrent closing of the border as a symbolic move or trading chip to get a reaction from Afghanistan has left the nation looking for new options in trade and defence. Due to Pakistan and Afghanistan not being on the same page when tackling terrorism and insurgency, Afghanistan has turned to Iran and India to fill in the gaps. The border closures only help by further dividing the two nations and place them into different geopolitical spheres based on trade and support. Afghanistan eventually realised their dependency on Pakistan was not sustainable.
From 2015 to early 2017, Pakistan’s trade with Afghanistan has fallen from 3 billion to 500 million. This has happened in conjunction with Iran’s trade with Pakistan increasing by 25% in the exact same time. Iran’s ‘liberalization’ through the removal of sanctions and India’s investment in Chabahar to increase trade with Afghanistan is taking the nation down a different multilateral policy. India has reacted to the aggravation between the two by relaxing both visa and trade rules with Afghanistan.
5-year visas are regularly given out and businessmen and medical tourists are given stamps for over 150 days. This is leading to a new order in the region and the closure of the border has aided this. 
 

Assessment

The decision to overturn the border closing is an astute move from Nawaz Sharif. Him and his government should realise that pushing away Afghanistan in times of terror will only lead to the problem being further exacerbated. The tactic is failing and is pushing Afghan’s into the waiting arms of India and Iran who both have their own interests in mind. Pakistan and Afghanistan need each other currently more than ever and must come to a conclusion as to how to deal with terrorism in the region which is harming both their native populations. Only once this is done can calm return to both the countries and till then they will further move to alternative solutions from nations vying for better trade routes. 

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