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Nawaz orders immediate reopening of Pak-Afghan border

Updated Mar 20, 2017 03:35pm

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Monday ordered the reopening of the Pak-Afghan border with immediate effect, a month after it was closed following the deadly Sehwan blast said to have been carried out by cross-border terrorists, DawnNews reported.

More than 80 people, including women and children, were killed and hundreds of devotees injured in the blast at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan, Sindh.

The province's inspector general of police, A.D. Khowaja, had claimed that the suspected suicide bomber "appeared to be an Afghan national."

All border crossing with Afghanistan were sealed soon after the attack.

The decision to reopen the border was taken as a goodwill gesture as the two countries enjoy centuries-long religious, cultural and historical relations, the prime minister was quoted as saying.

However, the prime minister said he hoped the Afghan government would take measures to eliminate the reasons for which the borders were closed in the first place.

“Durable peace in Afghanistan is essential for peace and stability in the region,” Sharif said.

The premier was of the view that the prolonged closure of the Pak-Afghan border was against the interests of the people and economies of the two countries.

Earlier this month, Pakistan had temporarily opened the border at Torkham and Chaman to allow stranded Afghan nationals to return to their country.

The border crossings were opened on March 7 and 8, "in order to provide an opportunity to those nationals of Afghanistan who had come to Pakistan on valid visas and wish to return to their country", a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release had stated.