Traffic and trade remained suspended on the Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing on Friday, as the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was closed off. This time, the border closure is at the behest of the Taliban, who in a statement announced that the crossing will remain closed for all types of commuting, including transit and trade, for both sides and pedestrians until Pakistan scrapped all visa requirements for Afghans. Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid stated that the group’s leadership had endorsed the move.

The border crossing at Chaman is an important one—valuable trade occurs through the crossing, with an Afghan government estimate that the route was used by 900 trucks a day before the Taliban seized the border. The route has been used by international forces (ISAF) in Afghanistan as part of a major supply route stretching from the Port of Karachi to Kandahar. Yet even with the incentive of customs revenue, the proposition is not up for negotiation.

Visa-free entries would cost Pakistan far more than it could benefit. Firstly, this border is used to frequent closings—the rule in Afghanistan is unstable, governed by different factions. Earlier Pakistan closed the border on its own initiative when the Taliban seized control of the point. The risk of bringing in militancy and terrorism especially when there is still infighting going on at the border is too high.

Any negotiations on this demand would mean choosing a side between the Afghan government and the Taliban, a step Pakistan cannot even consider at this stage. In any case, the costs of a closed border weigh heavier for land-locked Afghanistan than Pakistan—the Taliban were collecting significant taxes at customs, and border closure impacts the import of medicine and food to Afghan citizens.

Pakistan must not give in to the demands of any specific group. Pakistan has no role in the internal matters of Afghanistan and cannot let its soil be used against the war-torn neighbouring country.