TORKHAM: At least one child and one woman died of suffocation on either sides of the Pak-Afghan border after Khyber Agency political administration closed Torkham for Afghan nationals without valid travel documents. The incident occurred Tuesday morning.
Thousands of people from both sides of the Durand Line were compelled to wait on their feet for more than three hours, after border security forces had been ordered to shut down the crossing for all traffic. The order given by the political administration followed the Pakistan government’s decision to stop Afghan nationals without documents from entering the country.
A baby girl suffocated to death, stuck in the crowd at the Afghan side of the main gate. An Afghan woman suffering from kidney disease, identified as Zarafa Bibi from Gardi Ghaus in Afghanistan, died from suffocation near Torkham in Pakistani territory. Approximately 25 others fell unconscious, of whom 10 were brought to a hospital in Landikotal.
Several thousand people had been stranded on the Afghan side of the border, while hundreds more remained stuck on the Pakistani side. Hundreds of trucks and trolleys loaded with goods, including fresh fruits and vegetables, had also been stuck on both sides of Torkham.
A high-ranking officer of the Frontier Corps ordered the opening of the border after he visited the scene later in the day. The government has announced a relaxation of their actions until the end of April, officials at Torkham reported.
On Monday, more than 200 houses of unregistered Afghan nationals were demolished by the political administration in Bacha Maina, Torkham. The demolition has already been completed by bulldozers and tractors, officials said. Occupants of these houses had been expelled from their houses, along with their belongings.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 13th, 2016.
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