Islamabad: The Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing at Torkham, which was only allowed to open for trade activities, has now opened its gates, permitting the entry of desperate Afghan men and women into Pakistan.
As per a notification issued by the Pakistan government, pedestrian entry has been allowed for Afghans after at least five months of suspension.
“As many as 240 Afghan nationals entered into Pakistan utilising the online visa facility at the border crossing while at least 108 Pakistanis also availed the opportunity to come back to their country,” said an official at Torkham.
“The pedestrian entry was opened after instructions from the Ministry of Interior in Islamabad, following an approval by the federal cabinet,” he added.
During May this year, the Pakistan government decided to close all of its borders with Afghanistan for pedestrian movement to in an effort to stop Covid-19 transmission.
The restrictions also included Islamabad’s decision to now allow inflow of refugees, who may want to enter into Pakistan amid Taliban takeover and the security situation in Afghanistan.
Officials posted at Torkham revealed that they are expecting about 10,000 to 12,000 Afghan nationals to cross the border and travel between Pakistan and Afghanistan on a daily basis, many of who do daily border-crossing movement for work.
The previous ban on cross-border movement had severe affects on the locals living on both sides of the border as nearly 8,000 daily wagers and porters lost their jobs.
These wagers had been protesting against the border closure and had established a protest camp also, demanding the authorities to lift what they called unjustified ban.
Officials also revealed that they received a batch of at least 570 Afghan students, who were studying in different educational institutions in Pakistan.
“These students sent ahead to their respective institutions after a mandatory 10-day quarantine,” the officials stated.
The Torkham border was also used to evacuate hundreds of Afghan and foreign nationals, after they were granted special permission after the Taliban takeover.
It is expected that there will be an inflow of Afghan refugees into Pakistan in the coming days as cross-border movement through the Torkham border will increase in number with every passing day.