Afghanistan border trade resumes after Pakistan suspends new visa rules

Border trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan returned to normal on Wednesday, officials from both countries announced, after Islamabad suspended new visa rules.

Commercial traffic ground to a halt on Tuesday as Pakistan began requiring commercial vehicle crews to obtain passports and visas to enter the country, and Afghanistan responded by refusing to let trucks through.

“Yesterday, when Pakistan implemented new rules, the Afghan side responded by suspending trade in protest,” a Pakistani customs official told AFP on Wednesday.

“Last night, Commerce Department officials met with Afghan officials and reached an agreement to grant Afghan drivers an additional two-week extension.”

The official said Pakistan has already delayed implementation of the new rules twice.

The media office of the governor of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province confirmed that cross-border trade has resumed.

“Afghan and Pakistani officials held talks and were assured that this issue would be permanently resolved,” it said in a post on X.

Long-standing relations between Kabul and Islamabad have deteriorated since October, when Pakistan announced plans to deport hundreds of thousands of Afghan migrants, saying they were in the country illegally.

Approximately 340,000 Afghans have been deported or returned voluntarily to date.

Pakistan has announced that only Afghans with passports and visas will be allowed into the country, abolishing the decades-old practice of only allowing travel with national identity cards.

Landlocked Afghanistan is heavily dependent on its neighbors for imports of both locally made goods and foreign goods sourced from Pakistan’s Karachi port.

But Pakistan, which is suffering a major economic crisis, claims it loses hundreds of millions of dollars each year by allowing goods bound for Afghanistan to enter the country duty-free.

Some items cannot cross the border, while others are smuggled into Pakistan and sold illegally.

Islamabad says the mass deportation of illegal immigrants is necessary to protect its “welfare and security” following a surge in attacks by militants operating from Afghanistan.

Afghanistan’s Taliban government insists it does not allow foreign insurgents to use its territory and maintains that Pakistan’s security problems are internal.


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