The Torkham border gateway, which is located in the historic Khyber Pass, has long served as a vital trade route between Pakistan and Afghanistan. Annually handling approximately $2 billion in commerce, it functions as the economic backbone of both nations. Since September 6, 2023, however, the Torkham frontier has been closed due to clashes between Pakistani and Afghan security forces, resulting in severe consequences for commerce and the economies of both nations.
In Pakistan and Afghanistan, the closure of the Torkham frontier has caused widespread economic turmoil. In Pakistan, businesses dependent on trade with Afghanistan have either dissolved or resorted to laying off employees. This disruption has also resulted in price increases for necessities such as food and fuel. Afghanistan’s situation is even grimmer. The closure of the frontier has made it more difficult to import essential products and humanitarian aid, exacerbating the country’s economic crisis. The World Bank estimates that the Torkham border closure could cost the Afghan economy up to $1 billion per month, a colossal burden for a nation already struggling to meet its fundamental requirements.
In addition to its economic impact, the Torkham border closure has cast a shadow over the region’s political and security dynamics. It has strained relations between Pakistan and the government of the Afghan Taliban, escalating tensions and increasing the likelihood of further conflict.
Reopening the Torkham border is essential for both nations’ economic recovery and security. In order to accomplish this, the international community must play a crucial role in resolving the ongoing conflict in Torkham. The international community can adopt the following essential measures:
- Encourage direct negotiations between the administrations of Pakistan and Afghanistan to resolve the dispute.
- Provide financial aid to both countries in order to mitigate the economic effects of the closure.
- Support border security enhancement efforts.
- Prevent the conflict from escalating into a full-scale war.
However, it’s a complex challenge to reopen the Torkham border is a complex challenge, but it is essential for Pakistan and Afghanistan’s prosperity and stability. The international community must collaborate to discover a solution that benefits all parties.
In addition to economic and security costs, the Torkham conflict poses an environmental risk. The closure of the frontier could encourage an increase in the contraband of natural resources, worsening the regional environment and contributing to climate change.
Equally essential is addressing the environmental impact of the Torkham conflict. Efforts should be made to prevent resource smuggling, promote sustainable development in the region, and mitigate the effects of climate change.
The closure of the Torkham border is a complex matter with far-reaching consequences. The international community must work together to resolve the economic, environmental, and security challenges posed by this prolonged closure.
In addition, the statistics demonstrate the significant economic effects of the border closure. In the first two months of the current fiscal year (FY24), bilateral commerce between Pakistan and Afghanistan decreased by 11%, from $264.40 million to $234.48 million. Exports from Pakistan to Afghanistan decreased by 1 percent, while imports from Afghanistan saw a significant 22 percent decline. These statistics highlight the imperative need to reopen the Torkham border and restore the vital trade link between the two countries.
As long as the situation persists, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the international community must collaborate to find a solution to the Torkham border conflict, as inaction threatens the economies and well-being of both countries.