Khyber Agency’s political administration on Tuesday closed the Torkham border indefinitely for people not possessing the requisite travel documents to cross the divide.
“We closed the border at 10am and will continue to keep it closed until people have the required documents,” Landikotal Assistant Political Agent Dr Azmat Wazir told The Express Tribune. Wazir claimed tribesmen do not realise the importance of travel documents because they are illiterate.
According to Ismail Shah, a resident of Badkhshan province, Afghanistan, “The Afghans don’t know about the travel documents [requirement]. Decisions are taken on the government level only; the public is kept in the dark about what they need to do pertaining new rules.”
Tribesmen on both sides of the Pak-Afghan border expressed disappointment and criticised the authorities over the closure. They complained people are faced with immense difficulties, stuck in long queues of vehicles full of stranded commuters.
An Afghan patient also died in the wait. The political administration’s spokesperson Fayaz Khan confirmed Abdul Hameed from Herat breathed his last because of the border closure. “The deceased was brought to Rehman Medical Institute in Peshawar for treatment; he died on the way back to Afghanistan,” said Khan.
In January this year, both governments agreed to allow tribesmen living within a 10-kilometre radius of the border to move back and forth freely. However, frequent skirmishes and fist fights on the border in the last couple of months between Afghan security personnel and Pakistani border officials resulted in restrictions on movement imposed by the government.
An official of the Torkham political administration said the decision was taken by both the countries after negotiations to restrict illegal movement.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 1st, 2013.
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