LANDI KOTAL: Pakistan has started the repatriation of its citizens stranded in Afghanistan through Torkham border point and until April 20, around 500 Pakistanis would be brought back home.
“We have started formal repatriation of our citizens which includes drivers, employees and those who have family ties in Afghanistan and reopened the border on the request of our people,” Khyber Deputy Commissioner Mahmood Aslam Wazir said while talking to The Express Tribune on Saturday.
“We have devised a plan according to which in the first phase, we have accommodated the truck drivers, women and elderly citizens and they will be shifted to the quarantine centres,” he added.
“Until April 20, we will bring 500 [Pakistanis] and in the next phase, a similar number [of citizens] would be repatriated.”
Meanwhile, Khyber Additional Assistant Commissioner Shamsul Islam noted round 359 Afghan Tableeghi Jammat members left for Afghanistan on Saturday morning.
On Friday, authorities resumed limited transport movement through the Torkham border allowing vehicles and Pakistani citizens stranded on the other side to re-enter the country.More than 200 transporters and 78 vehicles entered the Khyber tribal district.
All the new arrivals had been shifted to isolation wards in Landi Kotal, and the district administration had ensured the provision of two-time meals and medical facilities for them.
Before the entry, they were properly sprayed with disinfectants and then moved to the isolation wards.
The repatriates will have to stay at the quarantine centre until their coronavirus tests are received by the district health officer.
Once the tests come out negative, they will be allowed to go to their homes. Until then, they will have to stay in the isolation wards.
Earlier, Pakistan had allowed one-sided crossing at the border to allow Afghan citizens to leave the country. Now, the government has allowed the reverse one-sided movement of people and vehicles to let the stranded Pakistan in the country.
The district administration has taken special measures for the Pakistani citizens, who have been stranded in Afghanistan for over a month due to the coronavirus pandemic and requested the government to take steps for their repatriation.On March 16, Pakistan had closed its borders for two weeks and later extended the period until April 14.
An Interior Ministry statement earlier this week said that the closure of Pakistan’s borders neighbouring India, China, Afghanistan and Iran had been extended until April 28.
The ministry had said that the decision had been in line with the government’s strategy to stem the spread Covid-19 cases in the country.
However, it added, two main crossing points between Pakistan and Afghanistan would remain open for three days a week only for cargo trucks.
On Thursday, the Afghan government had extended the Kabul lockdown for three more weeks, vowing more restrictions on movement in the city.
The lockdown also applies to provincial districts, while roads connecting Kabul with other provinces would also remain closed, the interior ministry said.