Pakistan Announces Immediate Reopening of Afghanistan Border

The United Nations Monday welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif's decision to order the immediate reopening of the Pak-Afghan border, more than a month after it was closed following the deadly Sehwan blast said to have been carried out by cross-border terrorists.

Calling it a "goodwill gesture", Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif ordered the opening of all the crossings along the boundary, considered the busiest and most lucrative border crossings in South Asia.

The border was closed last month after a series of attacks killed at least 100 people and injured 300 others.

According to an official statement, the Pakistani leader also said that he had reiterated time and again that durable peace in Afghanistan was imperative for peace and security in Pakistan.

While Pakistan has cracked down on some militants in recent years, the Taliban and Haqqani Network still use bases in Pakistan to launch attacks in Afghanistan, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation commander in Afghanistan told the U.S. Senate last month.

On March 7 the Sharif, government opened the border for 48 hours to allow the return of the citizens who were on the other side to their respective countries.

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With traders resorting to the same routes as arms smugglers and insurgents to get perishable goods into Afghanistan, high food prices will remain high until Pakistan relents, Alokozay said.

The two-way annual trade is between Dollars 1.5-2 billion.

Members of Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry last week urged their respective governments "to segregate business and trade ties from political tensions, and separate security and political issues from economic activities between the two countries" to ensure free flow of trade.

Attahullah Khogyani, a spokesman for the governor of the Afghan province of Nangarhar governor, said border talks are ongoing but the gates at Torkham haven't been opened yet.

"We have suffered losses on both sides", he said, speaking from Landi Kotal, which is near the border.

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