Checking militants: Afghan students to get special border cards

Published: July 9, 2017
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LANDI KOTAL/PESHAWAR: In a bid to halt militants – disguised as students – from crossing into Pakistan, the political administration of Khyber Agency has announced special cards to be issued, from Monday, to students from Afghan border villages.

The announcement came late Friday night in view of a request from Afghan authorities a couple of days ago, and after thorough consultations with security forces, according to a notification issued by the political administration.

“All those Afghan students who want to continue their education in border schools in Khyber Agency should get registered with the Tehsildar office starting from Monday to obtain special cards, which will facilitate them in crossing the border on a daily basis,” reads the notification.

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It adds that a proper verification from schools principals and the local administration is compulsory for obtaining the special computerised cards.

More than 500 Afghan students enrolled in various private and government schools in Jamrud used to cross into Pakistan on displaying their school cards to security officials at the border.

However, the practice came to a halt in February this year after Pakistan closed its border with Afghanistan due to security reasons, following the Sehwan blast which killed 90 people and injured more than 300. The border was reopened after nearly a month on the orders of the PM, but the schoolchildren continued to have a tough time.

Welcoming the announcement, Abdur Raziq, a teacher at the Pak International Public School, told The Express Tribune that the small goodwill gesture would go a long way in facilitating people-to-people contact and boosting relationship at the government level.

“Some 200 students failed to appear for their matriculation exams and more than 100 for their grade five exams due to the border tension,” he said. “With this positive step from the political administration, the students can appear in next year’s exams.”

“We have requested the education officer in the Fata to arrange special exams for those Afghan students who missed them, but we have yet to hear anything concrete from the officer,” Raziq said.

Naib Tehsildar Passport Torkham, Shams-ul-Islam, said, “On the first day, we will issue special cards to two Afghan students and the practice will continue for three weeks this month and accordingly every year.”

The locals welcomed the move and asked the interior ministry and the army chief to also facilitate those married to Afghan women or had married their daughters to Afghan men, by issuing them similar special cards.

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A local, Ikram Shinwari, whose sister is married to an Afghan national in Jalalabad, told The Express Tribune that people like him should be facilitated like the Afghan students.

Local businessmen also requested the political administration to issue them special cards so that they could avoid hassles during customs clearance at the border.

Pakistan, under the border management system, has started a visa and passport policy for those needing to cross the border.

Previously, a special Rahdari pass had been acquired by Fata border residents to cross the border freely without any passport or travel documents, but the facility was withdrawn by the Afghan side, citing militancy as a reason.

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