Clearing the air: Torkham border reopens after Kabul pledges action

Up to 10,000 people on either side make the crossing.


Tahir Khan/qamar Zaman December 30, 2012
Vehicles lined up at the Torkham border waiting to traverse to the other side. PHOTO: SANA

ISLAMABAD:


Pakistan reopened the Torkham border crossing on Saturday following Kabul’s assurance that strict action would be taken against those responsible for the recent assault on Pakistani labourers.


A statement issued by the foreign ministry said: “Based on the assurances given by the Afghan Ambassador [Mohammad Umar Daudzai], Pakistan agreed to reopen the border which was closed since yesterday. [The] ministry of interior is issuing instructions in this regard.”

Ambassador Daudzai called on Alamgir Babar, special secretary at the foreign ministry, to discuss the matter.

The move came almost 48 hours after Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers had reportedly beaten up two Pakistani nationals and tore up their travel documents.

“Ambassador Daudzai promised that the matter would be investigated and action would be taken against those responsible. He also pledged that such incidents would not recur. The Afghan ambassador also raised the incident involving Afghan nationals in Landi Kotal,” the statement added.

ANA troops had stopped a Pakistani driver’s vehicle, thrashed him along with his cleaner passenger, and took away the cash they were carrying. The driver, Yar Khan, and his cleaner, Lal Gul had said that they were beaten up by ANA personnel at Pul-e-Charkhi checkpoint near Kabul. They said the Afghan servicemen warned them against entering their country again.

A similar incident had occurred on December 22, when 29 Pakistani labourers were harassed by ANA personnel despite possessing valid travel documents.

Kabul confirms border reopening

An Afghan foreign ministry statement also confirmed the Torkham border crossing was reopened following talks between Ambassador Daudzai and Secretary Babar.

The statement said that Daudzai and Babar also discussed the December 27 incident in Landi Kotal, Khyber Agency, where a number of Afghan citizens were harassed by unidentified men and their passports were torn up.

“At the end of the meeting, both sides agreed that the respective authorities of both the countries would conduct comprehensive investigations into the reported mistreatment of a number of Pakistani citizens near Kabul last week and the Landi Kotal incident, and undertake necessary measures,” the statement claimed.

Separately, members of the Afghan Senate urged the government to send a parliamentary delegation to Pakistan to hold talks on the recent incidents, Afghan media reported.

They expressed regret that certain incidents and conflicts between the governments were affecting people in both the countries.

Afghan journalist Babrak Miankhel told The Express Tribune by phone from the Afghan side of the border that Pakistani border officials opened the crossing at 4 pm Afghanistan standard time.

Miankhel said that nearly 10,000 people, who were stranded on either side of the border for 48 hours, eventually made the crossing.

Sadaqat Khan, a resident of Nangarhar province in Afghanistan, said that he was unaware the border was closed, adding that he had a doctor’s appointment and was stranded at the crossing. “I am waiting for the border reopening to visit the doctor.”

(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING FROM ABUZAR AFRIDI IN LANDI KOTAL)

Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2012.

COMMENTS (2)

kHaN | 8 years ago | Reply

Whether it's the Pak-India conflict or Pak-Afghan tention, it's always been the poor mass who suffer in between. Ten Afghan children died in the cold because of the gate closure (even though it wasn't covered in the Pak media) and we think that was the wisest step from the Pakistani Border Forces to protest against the harassment of 29 Pakistanis. People at both sides of the border are celebrating the sufferings of these poor people (whether they are Pakistanis or Afghans) out of their patriotic sentiments. In fact, we don't value the lives of innocent people who have nothing to do with their governments ill-politics. There's no respect for human beings. This part of the world is a sick place to live in.

roadkashehzada | 8 years ago | Reply

(another attack on pakistanis, another gate closure, another pledge to probe, another gate opening. business as usual.) x 1000

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