PESHAWAR, Dec 29: The Afghan government has permitted the people of Chitral to use the Nawa Pass route via the Kunar province in winter for three months without any travelling documents, official said.

An official of Afghan consulate here on Monday told Dawn that Pakistanis could use the route till March 21 without visas.

The entire Chitral valley remains cut off from the rest of the country for more than three months when the Lowari Pass receives heavy snow while PIA usually suspends its flight operation for the hilly area due to inclement weather.

Bad weather restricts people’s movement to the valley, surrounded by high altitude mountains who face food stuff shortage and other problems.

Officials said that the NWFP government had requested the Afghan government to give permission to the people of Chitral to pass through the Nawa Pass route after 3,200 meters high Lowari Pass — the only land route from Pakistan — closed due to heavy snowfall. The pass is still open for traffic.

They said that a few days ago the Afghan foreign ministry had given permission and directed its border security forces to allow the entry of Chitralis for three months.

Senior officials of the provincial home department and Afghan consulate met here in which it was decided that the Nawa Pass route would remain open for Pakistanis from Dec 22 to March 21.

SMUGGLER HELD: A South African national has been arrested on drug smuggling charges at the Peshawar international airport, a press release said.

The officials of the Anti-Narcotics Force and the Airport Security Force stopped the suspect, Willem Schalk Janzen, at the airport’s departure lounge on Saturday. During search 3kg heroin was seized from his luggage.