Pak-Afghan Chaman border crossing opens for an hour

Oct 19, 2021: The Chaman border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan opened on Tuesday but only for an hour.

The Pak-Afghan Chama border which has been closely monitored by the Taliban since they came to power in August, was opened for an hour allowing hundreds of stranded Pakistanis, Afghans return to their countries.

Pakistani officials said the narrow time window of opening for the Chaman crossing allowed more than 800 Afghans stranded in Pakistan to return home.

Similarly, hundreds of Pakistanis stranded in Afghanistan were allowed to return after which the Friendship Gate closed. The two main border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan at Torkhan and Chaman have been closed since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August.

The Chaman border crossing has been closed for two weeks. The closure of Chaman border crossing affected Pakistani exporters who protested in Chaman on Friday. Pakistani officials say Taliban government officials have unilaterally closed the border crossing. The Taliban has not issued an official statement.

In August, the Taliban demanded that Afghan citizens be allowed to enter Pakistan without a visa only after showing a tazkira (Afghan identity card). After the Taliban closed the Chaman border crossing for a week, Pakistan allowed Afghans to enter the country on Tazkira.

Balochistan Interior Minister Ziaullah Langu later said that Pakistan would not allow Afghan nationals to enter the country illegally. However, the recent border closure is for a variety of reasons. A large number of Afghans willing to flee their country to escape Taliban rule reportedly used the Torkham and Chaman border crossings to enter Pakistan and travel elsewhere or to stay in the country.

A report by the Guardian shows that the Taliban have tightened border controls to prevent people from going “abroad”. The decision has made it difficult for critically ill Afghans to seek medical treatment in Pakistan.

Thousands of Afghans have been entering Pakistan regularly for years for medical treatment. However, after the Taliban closed the border and decided to allow only Pakistani visa holders to cross, Afghans faced difficulties.

Last week, a young Afghan girl and her cousin died trying to enter Pakistan through a mountain pass. The family said they were not allowed to cross the Chaman or Torkham border posts.

On Sunday, Pakistan allowed nearly 1,000 Afghan students to cross via the Torkham border into Pakistan.

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