Afghan and Pakistani authorities on Wednesday launched round-the-clock operations at a key border post as the two countries aim to boost bilateral and transit trade.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan along with senior Afghan officials formally inaugurated the Torkham border post through which about 10,000 people cross daily.
The move is also aimed at repairing traditionally strained relations between the two South Asian countries, which share a nearly 2,600km (approximatey 1,600 miles) border.
Previously, the crossing remained operational for 12 hours only, which created disruption for truckers on either side and a difficult situation for patients that could not cross the border overnight.
Landlocked Afghanistan mostly uses Pakistani land routes as well as seaports to conduct international trade.
Habib Rehman, a local trader, told Pakistani newspaper Dawn that local trade between the two countries had decreased considerably in recent years adding that it would take some time to “reap” the benefits of 24/7 opening.
The opening will be accompanied by the inauguration of the Pakistan-Afghan Friendship Hospital at Torkham, Dawn reported. Afghans arriving via the crossing point will be provided medical facilities in the hospital.
— PTI (@PTIofficial) September 18, 2019
Pakistan sealed all border crossings with Afghanistan in 2017, in the wake of a wave of attacks on its soil that killed at least 130 people.
Later that year, Prime Minister Khan ordered the reopening of the border for all traffic “on humanitarian grounds”.
Islamabad and Kabul have accused each other of sheltering armed groups. Both sides have denied the charges.
Earlier this year, Pakistan’s military started the building of a security barrier along its northwest border, with surveillance technology aimed at monitoring cross-border movement.