ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan has so far not responded to the measures taken by Pakistan to implement a border management system at the Torkham border in order to curb the flow of undocumented travellers, Foreign Office spokesman Nafeez Zakaria said on Thursday.
Zakaria, while briefing the media, notified that "Afghanistan’s cooperation is extremely necessary in this regard".
Editorial: Border management
Earlier on Wednesday, the Pakistani authorities had made the management system operational on one of the main border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan, disallowing those without a valid Pakistani visa to enter the country.
Afghanistan, however, did not take this decision lightly; the Afghan consulate in Peshawar closed on Tuesday for a day apparently in protest, while at the Pak-Afghan border the authorities did not allow Pakistani cargo trucks to enter Afghanistan thus leading to heavy congestion of traffic on the roads leading to the area.
The Torkham crossing has been a point of contention in recent months, as Pakistan is trying to step up its efforts to regularise and monitor the inflow of people for better security.
Estimates are that between 10,000 to 28,000 people use the Torkham border daily, with the overwhelming majority of them without proper travel documents.
Of these undocumented travellers, four were the militants who attacked the Bacha Khan University campus in Charsadda earlier this year in January according to Pakistani officials.
Events such as these are the main reasons behind the Pakistani effort to control its borders.
Torkham was site of tension before as well in May when Pakistan and Afghanistan deployed tanks and armoured personnel carriers as dialogue between the two neighbors had stalled over Pakistan’s decision to fence the border crossing.
The deadlock was eventually broken and the border opened following General Raheel Sharif’s meeting with the Afghan Ambassador Omer Zakhilwal.
Apart from fencing the border, Pakistan had also decided back in April to computerise its monitoring systems at the Torkham crossing, making it mandatory for travellers to have their luggage scanned.
The requirement for travellers to show their identification and visa that came into effect this month is part of the same process to systemise the border crossing.
Torkham is but one location where state monitoring has been increased; Pakistan has established 535 security check posts on the Pak-Afghan border in order to check movement of militants and illegal aliens entering the country.