Travel curbs and students

Thousands of Pakistanis in Afghan universities left stranded because of the Covid-related closure of Torkham border

August 01, 2021

Thousands of Pakistanis studying in Afghanistan’s universities have been left stranded because of the Covid-related closure of Torkham border since June 17. However, Afghan students pursuing education in Pakistani universities have been allowed to return to this country. This seems to smack of double standards. Relevant authorities have not permitted students to go back to Afghanistan even to take exams. As a result of this, students fear they might lose one precious academic year. Even those whose exams start in a few days have so far no information on whether they will be allowed to return to Afghanistan to take the exams. They are in a quandary and losing hope as to whether they would be able to appear in the exams.

Some 203 Pakistani students are enrolled at Rokhan University, Jalalabad. Their exams get underway from August 1 but they cannot travel to Afghanistan for lack of permission to cross the border. All these students returned to Pakistan in the second half of June or thereabouts and have since been stranded here and unable to pursue their studies. There are 150 Pakistanis studying in a medical college in Afghanistan and their exams begin from August 5. All these and many other students are in a predicament for the lack of government policy on the issue. Pakistani students say they have valid travel documents and the government seems to be oblivious and unconcerned about their future. Ironically, Afghan students studying in Pakistan face no problems in travelling between their country and Pakistan, and they have been continuing their studies without a hitch.

Students from Pakistan suffered doubly. Firstly, due to the prolonged coronavirus pandemic, and secondly, because of indecision on the part of the government. The government has so far remained silent on the issue to the detriment of students. It should allow students to return to Afghanistan without any further delay, especially when exams are so close at hand. Delaying decision would cost the students heavily. Lost time is never found again.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 1st, 2021.

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