Cut off from Pakistan, Maroof residents in trouble
KANDAHAR CITY (Pajhwok): The residents of Maroof district of southern Kandahar province say Pakistani security forces have closed across the Durand Line three routes connecting the town with Balochistan’s capital Quetta and Pishin district.
The three routes --- Toba Achakzai, Toba Kakari and Badeni --- lead from Maroof district to Pishin and Quetta cities across the border in Pakistan.
Maroof residents say in the past residents of neighbouring Zabul province’s Atghar and Shamulzai districts would also travel to Pakistan through these routes to take their patients, bring in food and export their agriculture products, but the routes have been closed by Pakistani security forces over the past more than a month.
A resident of Maroof, Abdullah Afghan, told Pajhwok Afghan News the routes had been closed by Pakistani border guards.
He said more than a month had passed since the routes were closed but neither the Pakistanis had provided any reason for their closure and nor the Afghans had tried to get them reopened.
He said the routes were not only used by Maroof residents to cross into Pakistan, but residents of Zabul’s Shamulzai and Atghar districts also did so.
The closure has created many problems for residents of the three districts because even sick people were not allowed to cross into Pakistan, he added.
“These are the shortest routes to Pakistan through which people would take their products like raisins, agriculture products, almonds and others to Pakistan for sale and would bring in food items.”
Afghan said people of Maroof, Shamulzai and Atghar would travel through the routes to Pishin and Quetta, the capital of Balochistan province, taking their emergency patients.
He urged the Afghan government to take measures for reopening the routes the closure of which had a negative impact on their lives. He said the closure had led to increased prices of food items besides causing joblessness.
A resident of Shamulzai district, Abdul Samad, told Pajhwok Afghan News that the closure of the three routes had compelled people of the three districts to embark on a longest route to reach Quetta.
He said people had to reach Spin Boldak border town and then cross into Pakistan to reach Quetta -- a route also insecure and expensive.
“The route from Maroof to Spin Boldak passes through mountains and deserts. The dust road is 150 kilometres. Often the danger of landmines and intimidation by police and Taliban is felt.”
He said there were three routes leading from Maroof to Spin Boldak locally known as Posto route, Rud and Salison route.
Samad said police pressured people into travelling on the Posto route, but Taliban insisted people should travel on Rud and Salison routes because they used to plant landmines on the Posto route.
He said the problem needed to be resolved and Pakistan should reopen the three routes in order people’s concerns could be addressed.
The rates of local products have reduced and of food being brought from Pakistan have increased due to the closure of the routes, said Samad, adding that people could not take their patients to Pakistan despite the lack of health facilities on this side of the border.
Maroof residents said they had not yet shared the problem with local officials because they did not care about people’s problems.
Pajhwok attempted to seek comments in this regard from the Marood district administrative head, but did not succeed.
Samim Khpalwak, the Kandahar governor’s spokesman, confirmed Pakistani forces had closed the routes connecting Maroof district with Pakistani towns.
However, he said peoples of both countries should travel through legal routes, something very important from security perspective.
He said in the southern region Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing was the only formal route people could travel through.
Maroof district is 190km from Kandahar City, the provincial capital, near the Durand Line and it shares 155km border with Pakistan. Maroof also borders Zabul’s Atghar, Shamulzai, Shinkai and Sewri districts.
The district encompasses about 360 villages with 150,000 to 200,000 people living in them. The residents are associated with farming and livestock.
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