March 23, 2017

Pak-Afghan border crossings to open temporarily, says FO

21 March 2017, 03:02 | Darnell Patrick

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"The crossing points will also be opened on these two days for those nationals of Pakistan who had gone to Afghanistan on valid visas and wish to return to Pakistan".

The measure, which is to remain in place on Wednesday, seeks to ease tensions between the two neighbours and relieve some of the backlog of people and vehicles at the crossings.

The two are major arteries for trade and commerce but were closed last month. "But those without proper travel documents have not been allowed to cross over to either side [through Torkham]".

The envoy further said that such "continuous unreasonable" closure of legal Pak-Afghan trade and transit routes can not have any other explanation except to be aimed at hurting the Afghan people.

The government announced the previous day it would reopen the Torkham and Chaman crossings for two days to allow Afghan and Pakistani travellers stranded on both sides of the Durand Line to return to their home countries.

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Fayyaz Khan, a government official at Torkham, said 550 Afghans crossed over since the crossing was opened at 7am.

Islamabad has long blamed Afghanistan for terrorism in Pakistan and not taking adequate action against terrorists there.

Islamabad also sought to use the closure as a tool to pressure Kabul to act against militants with sanctuaries across the border.

Reportedly, terrorist belonging to Jamat-ul-Ahrar - a breakaway faction of outlawed TTP - attacked at least three border posts in Mohmand Agency killing five soldiers while another soldier was martyred due to firing from Afghan territory in Khyber Agency. Under the deal, traders with business based in Chaman or Afghanistan's Vesh Mandi town can obtain permits to cross the border after showing just their identity cards. "Pakistani and Indian artists are with us in this campaign", Ahmad Reshad, member of Hunarsalar Art Group said.

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