Pakistan allows thousands of stranded Afghans to cross Chaman border

Thousands of Afghans were left stranded in the town of Chaman after the Taliban captured Spin Boldak


AFP July 17, 2021
People walk towards a border crossing point in Pakistan's border town of Chaman after Pakistan partially reopened its southern crossing with Afghanistan, shut off since the Taliban seized control of the strategic border town on the other side

CHAMAN:

Pakistan on Saturday partially reopened its southern Chaman crossing with Afghanistan, shut off since the Taliban seized control of the strategic border town on the other side.

Thousands of Afghans were left stranded in the town of Chaman after the Taliban captured Spin Boldak from Kabul's forces on Wednesday, part of a rapid offensive that has left the government facing a crisis.

"We have opened the Chaman border... allowing crowds of up to 4,000 Afghans including women and children to cross over to Afghanistan to celebrate Eidul Azha with their families, purely on humanitarian grounds," said a border official, who wanted to remain anonymous.

"People would be allowed to cross until the evening, with the possibility the border would open again tomorrow", the official added.

Muhammad Tayyab, a local paramilitary official, said the decision was taken because of "relative calm on the other side", but said the crossing would remain closed to trade. An AFP photographer said the gates were rushed by families as soon as they opened.

Qudratullah, 30, who lives in neighbouring Kandahar province in Afghanistan was returning after taking his father to Karachi for a heart bypass three months ago.

"I have to come back (to Pakistan) for a routine check-up of my father, but let's see if I am able to come back or not," he said.

Muhammad Khan, 50, who works as a labourer in Quetta, said he had been waiting at the border trying to reach Afghanistan for the Eid holiday.

"I will definitely try to come back after Eid because there is unemployment in Afghanistan and I will not be able to get any job there," he said.

Afghan forces on Friday launched an operation to try and take back control of Spin Boldak. On Saturday, the Taliban's white flags could still be seen flying over the crossing.

It follows weeks of intensifying clashes across Afghanistan, with the Taliban capitalising on the last stages of the US troop withdrawal to launch a series of lightning offensives, overrunning districts at a staggering rate.

The group has also taken other vital border crossings with neighbouring countries in the north and west.

COMMENTS

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read