Hundreds protest in Torkham against Pakistan
TORKHAM (Pajhwok): Hundreds of people in the Torkham border town on Sunday protested against travel restrictions unilaterally imposed by the government of Pakistan and warned to shut the border crossing against all kinds of movement if the visa requirement condition was not removed.
On June 1, the Pakistani security forces barred Afghans from entering the neighbouring country without a valid visa and passport.
Previously, patients, traders and people having refugee cards were allowed to enter Pakistan without a visa and passport.
Hundreds of residents, shopkeepers and traders living in the border town on this side of the border in eastern Nangarhar province held a protest rally against Pakistan.
Haji Khalil, head of Traders and Shopkeepers Union in Torkham, told Pajhwok Afghan News that people living on both sides of the Durand Line were Pashtuns who had close family relations with each other.
The protestors warned they would block the transit route and continue their protests if the restrictions were not lifted.
Khalil asked Pakistani and Afghan officials to resolve the issue through diplomatic channels.
Another protestor, Sharif Shinwari, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Pakistani forces on Saturday did not allow a bride married to a man across the border to cross the Torkham border crossing.
“It was an exchange marriage, the bride from Pakistan was allowed to enter Afghanistan, but the bride from Afghanistan was not allowed to enter Pakistan,” he said.
Torkham Mayor Haji Hamidullah Shinwari said hundreds of people took part in the peaceful protest and were demanding solution to the problem.
However, he claimed Pakistan border forces were taking money from Afghans to allow them to cross the border.
The Torkham route was also blocked for an hour due to the protest that came a day after hundreds of vehicles, either empty or loaded with export items, crossed over from Afghanistan into Pakistan on Friday after Pakistani officials relaxed the order regarding a bar on travelling without proper travel documents.
The Pakistani media quoted officials as saying that transporters possessing route permits issued by the Pakistani consul general in Jalalabad or his Afghan counterpart in Peshawar had been allowed to bring trade merchandise into Pakistan in their vehicles registered in Afghanistan.
Before grant of the temporary relaxation, the chief of the Afghan Transporters Union, Haji Qasim Arab, told Dawn that over 1,000 vehicles had been stranded on the Afghan side of the Torkham border crossing because their drivers didn’t have the passports and visas required to cross over into Pakistan.
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