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    Pakistan reopens Torkham border gate

    JALALABAD (PAN): Pakistani border guards have reopened the Pak-Afghan border gate at Torkham after a closure that lasted more than a week, leading to arrest of many illegal Afghan travelers during checking and partially halting NATO supplies, officials said on Saturday.

    Afghans, no matter having or not having travel documents, could easily cross the border since Friday, said a senior official at the Afghan Commissionrate in Torkham, Maj. Nisar Ahmad, who said the problem was resolved through negotiations. "There will be no such problems in future," he hoped.

    The Pakistani guards banned the entry of Afghans lacking legal travel documents to enter their country since January 25, saying they had been directed by the central government in Islamabad to close the border gate against illegal Afghan travelers.

    Earlier, the issue could not be resolved through talks between Afghan and Pakistan security officials at the border because it was beyond their authority to resolve.

    Pakistan and Afghan authorities earlier last month agreed if tribesmen living within a 10 kilometre radius on both sides of Torkham lacked necessary travel documents by January 10 they would not be allowed to cross the border.

    Pakistani officials at the Torkham political administration said the decision was taken by both countries after negotiations to restrict illegal movement of residents near the border.

    The closure left stranded thousands of people stranded on the Afghan side of the border since the restriction was imposed.

    A Pakistani border official, speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed receiving order from high ups to allow passengers crossing the gate. However, he said they had not been told to fully reopen the gate.

    A shopkeeper Rahman Gul said passengers were allowed on Friday to enter Pakistan. He added the Pakistanis once closed the border again for a few minutes, but soon reopened it.

    mm/ma



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