Following Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leader Tariq Afridi’s claim of responsibility for the Astor attack, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) government has placed the Kohat tunnel out of bounds for foreigners.
On Friday, the government issued fresh instructions to all foreign visitors and employees of national and international non-governmental organisations (NGO) to refrain from travelling to K-P’s southern districts, frontier regions (FR) and tribal agencies.
The route from Kohat tunnel leads to the centre of Darra Adam Khel – Afridi’s hometown. This is cited as the main reason for strict ban on entry for foreigners.
Foreign nationals and NGO workers had previously been restricted from entering Swat, Upper and Lower Dir, Shangla, Buner, Malakand, Chitral, Hangu, Tank and DI Khan districts.
The government notification also informed that foreigners were allowed to enter Kohat, Bannu and Karak only through Punjab, and cannot enter FR Kohat and FR Peshawar through the tunnel. It stated that all visiting diplomats and foreign nationals were advised to a write a request to the ministry of foreign affairs in Islamabad and inform the home department at least twelve working days in advance, so that proper steps could be taken to ensure their safety.
The notification further asked all foreign visitors, accompanied by a Pakistani official, to provide information about their names, staff members, place of visit, vehicle registration number, passport number, identity, NIC number (if Pakistani) and other relevant details prior to their visit. They are also asked not refuse a security escort and are prohibited from visiting the border areas.
“All visitors must know about the ban on photography in sensitive and restricted areas,” the notification read.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 18th, 2012.