Hundreds of Afghans refused entry at Torkham

A Pashtun man passes a road sign while pulling supplies towards the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing. – File photo by Reuters

LANDI KOTAL, Jan 2: The guards posted at Torkham border here on Wednesday sent back hundreds of Afghan nationals to Afghanistan when they failed to produce legal travel documents.

The border guards and immigration staff at Torkham have intensified checking of passports and visas of Afghan nationals, entering Pakistan for multiple purposes, after Afghan police tortured 29 Pakistani labourers and three transporters on December 22 and 28 respectively.

The Afghan officials, posted at the other side of the border, made announcements through loudspeakers and urged their countrymen to go back if they didn’t possess valid passports and visas.

Both the countries had agreed after the three incidents of torture of each other’s nationals by police and sleuths of intelligence agencies for no apparent reason that neither side would allow its people to cross the border without legal travelling documents.

Ambulances carrying patients and Pak-Afghan Friendship Bus were also returned to Pakistan by the Afghan guards after Pakistani authorities denied entry to Afghan nationals without documents.

The Pakistani officials had closed the border on December 22 and December 28 to protest the ill-treatment of Pakistanis at the hands of Afghan police near Kabul. Unidentified persons also forcibly disembarked some Afghan nationals from vehicles and beat them near Torkham border on December 27 when they were on their way to Peshawar.

The border was reopened on both occasions after intervention of officials of foreign offices of both the countries with mutual agreement that the incidents would be thoroughly investigated and efforts would be made to prevent occurrence of such incidents in the future.

Both the governments also agreed that they would not confiscate the passports of their respective nationals and would facilitate them in getting visas.

After imposition of fresh restrictions by officials of both the countries, hundreds of people from both the sides remained stranded at the border. The local people, who were never been asked in the past to produce any document while crossing the border as they frequently go and come back several times a day, have been hit hard by the fresh restrictions.

The unusual rush of pedestrians also hampered movement of vehicles on both sides of the border and affected supply of goods to Nato forces stationed in Afghanistan.

The Pakistani officials said that they would not accept the refugees cards issued to Afghan nationals by the Afghan Commissionerate in Peshawar as those cards had already expired on December 31.

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usman hashmi

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