Fate of Afghan students hangs in balance as Torkham border remains closed

Published: March 17, 2017
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A border police personnel provides water to an Afghan child who returned home after remaining stranded for 18 days. PHOTO: TWITTER/@pajhwok

A border police personnel provides water to an Afghan child who returned home after remaining stranded for 18 days. PHOTO: [email protected]

LANDI KOTAL: Some 400 students from villages across the Afghan border in Nangarhar crossed into Pakistan in the wee hours on Thursday, carrying only school identity cards as their ‘travel documents’.

THe children all attend school in Pakistan due to the lack of local facilities.

The practice had been going on for the past more than 30 years until

the closure of border crossing points at at Torkham and Chaman in the wake of the February 17 terrorist attack at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine.

On March 7, the border was reopened for two days after meetings between Pakistani government officials and Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal in Islamabad.

The administration of Pakistan International Public School (PIPS) and Oxford Public School in Bacha Meena, Landi Kotal, Torkham have asked the authorities to allow the students to complete their education.

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“We have requested the political administration and Khyber Rifles commandant to allow these 400 students to sit the exams,” PIPS Principal Abdul Raziq told The Express Tribune. “The students have already missed two preparatory tests,” he added.

Exams for grades nine and 10 are scheduled to take place from March 28 to May 3.

Half of these 500 students, Raziq continued, are from the Afghan province of Nangarhar, and border villages. “They have been absent from their respective classes.”

“The students were allowed through by border security forces and the political administration after thorough security clearance and we have requested the administration to let them keep coming back for this year on humanitarian grounds, but to no avail,” Raziq added.

Threats still exist after Torkham closure: IGP

Meanwhile, an official at the political administration said, “We want to keep records of every person’s moment from and into Pakistan.” The special provision for Afghan students (in practice since 1995) will end once the border is reopened,” he added.

The strained relation between the two countries has not just affected lives and commerce. It has also threatened the careers and future of the students, local journalist Abdul Azam added.

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Reader Comments (1)

  • Javed Afghan
    Mar 18, 2017 - 9:37AM

    It’s totally useless. They can study inside Afghanistan and I’m telling you this as an Afghan.Recommend

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