Border controls slightly eased after emergency flag meeting
PESHAWAR (Pajhwok): Border restrictions have been relaxed conditionally at the Torkham crossing after talks between Afghan and Pakistani officials, but citizens of both countries still complain of harsh treatment.
Wednesday’s flag meeting came as hundreds of people remained stranded on the Afghan side of the Torkham border for a second day in a row, area administrator Shakeel Umarzai told journalists.
Khyber Rifles Commandant Col. Tariq Hafeez, who led the Pakistan delegation, promised easing the rules for the Afghan patients. However, he made clear unlawful border crossings would not be allowed after April 30.
The Afghan team, led by Commissioner Qaseem, included Col. Nisar and Maj. Syed Amin. They urged softening of the border controls for Afghan nationals, especially patients and businessmen, according to Umarzai.
The Pakistanis asked their Afghan counterparts to set up a desk on their side for the verification of travel documents of their citizens before crossed the Durand Line. The move is designed to discourage illegal crossings.
At least two Afghans died and a dozen others fell unconscious as Pakistani guards refused entry to thousands of peopleon Tuesday. One ailing Afghan woman and a girl died waiting in scorching heat.
Landikotal resident Nadeem Afridi said only a small number of Afghans were allowed to cross into Pakistan after the meeting. Many others including women and children were turned back, he alleged.
Similarly, Jalalabad inhabitant Shafiq Nasiri blamed the Pakistani border guards for refusing entry to thousands of his compatriots. Only a limited number of Afghans were let into Pakistan, he added.
Mujib Shinwari, Torkham Customs Clearance Association general-secretary, noted a 50 percent fall in cross-border business because of the harsh curbs at the Torkham border. Traders had suffered losses of billions of rupees, he told The News.
Three days ago, Pakistani security forces evicted more than 300 unregistered Afghan families from their houses in Landikotal. Dozens of houses were razed by paramilitary troops in the Bacha Maina area of the dusty border town.
At least 30 mud houses were pulled down and 318 households, including 826 individuals, expelled from the locality. Some of the expelled families shifted to Landikotal instead of being deported to Afghanistan.
Many Afghans complain they are subjected to inhumane treatment by Pakistani law-enforcers despite having proof of registration cards.
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