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Humanitarian crisis as patients denied entry into Pakistan

Humanitarian crisis as patients denied entry into Pakistan

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Jan 23, 2017 - 14:55

JALALABAD (Pajhwok): Afghans travelling to Pakistaninfo-icon for medical treatment complain of harsh treatment at the Torkham crossing, saying they are denied entry into the neighbouring country even in emergency situations.

They claimed their ailing relatives were not allowed to cross the Torkham border without passports. Afghan officials acknowledged hundreds of people without passports had been turned back.

Nasratullah, a resident of the Qarghayee district of eastern Laghman province, traveled to Torkham to take his sister to Pakistan for treatment. But police did not allow him as his sister did not possess a visa/passport.

At 12.00 noon, Nasratullah told Pajhwok Afghan News he had arrived in Torkham at 7:00am but security officials did not allow him to enter Pakistan. They had an appointment with a doctor in Peshawar, and the fee they had paid lapsed.

Khan Mohammad, a resident of the Gardi Ghaus area of Nangarhar, said he had been waiting at the crossing point in the hope that Pakistani officials would allow him and his sick companion to cross the border.

“I have a valid passport and documents of an appointment with the doctor. But the patient I’m accompanying doesn’t have a passport. His condition will deteriorate, if he doesn’t meet the doctor,” Mohammad added.

Khadija, a woman from Kunar province, also reached Torkham to take her sister to Peshawar for medical treatment. Like others, she was also denied entry.

An Afghan security official, who wished to go unnamed, said Pakistan guards had imposed strict measures after a brief clash between the two countries last summer. Now passports/visas have since been made mandatory for entering Pakistan.

Attaullah Khogyani, the governor spokesman, acknowledged the problem and said the central government should resolve the issue. Pakistan had earlier promised allowing entry to patients, but breached its commitment, he alleged.

Last month, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry said a medical branch would be opened for emergency patients at the Torkham gate but the promise is yet to be honoured.

Border officials said the team would thoroughly check the medical record and examine the nature of illness of Afghan nationals going to hospitals in Peshawar or other cities of Pakistan -- without visas and passports.

Over the last six months since the ban was imposed, they had seen a number of seriously ill Afghans being refused entry only because they had no visa for Pakistan, the officials said.

nh/mud

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