CHAMAN: People gather as they wait to cross the Friendship Gate crossing point at Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Monday.—Reuters
CHAMAN: People gather as they wait to cross the Friendship Gate crossing point at Pakistan-Afghanistan border on Monday.—Reuters

QUETTA: Afghan nationals were not allowed to enter their country on Monday after Afghanistan closed its border with Pakistan, demanding that Pakistanis stranded on Afghan soil should also be allowed to return to their country.

Pakistan has opened its border with Afghanistan on the special request of the Afghan government for four days to allow return of its nationals stranded at Chaman and Torkham borders.

Thousands of Afghan and Pakistani nationals, including patients and traders, are stranded on both sides of the border for five weeks.

Official sources said that according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs orders, Pakistan had opened border at Chaman and Torkham at around 10am and many nationals, including women and children, who had come to Pakistan with passports and other legal documents were allowed to enter their country. “The return of Afghans to their country continued for around five hours smoothly,” a senior security official posted at the Pak-Afghan border in Chaman said.

“Around 400 to 500 Afghans returned to Afghanistan by showing legal documents at the immigration desk of FIA,” officials said. However, at around 3pm, the Afghan border authorities closed the border with Pakistan at Chaman. Officials said that Kabul wanted Pakistan to also allow Pakistanis to cross into their country, who were stranded in the Afghan border town of Spin Boldak in large numbers.

Pakistani and Afghan border authorities negotiated at the border but the issue could not be resolved till the closing time of the border at 5pm. Afghan border authorities said that they would not open border until the issue was resolved.

“The return of Afghans was continuing smoothly but all of sudden Afghanistan closed border,” Zakaullah Durrani, a senior official of district administration confirmed to Dawn, adding that around 2,000 Afghans had arrived at the border till its official closing time.

He said that several thousand Pakistanis were also waiting in Spin Boldak.

The Pakistani authorities at Chaman had informed the ministries of interior and foreign affairs about the demand of the Afghan government, he added.

The Afghan nationals, who crossed into Afgh­anistan, would be sent to quarantine centres for 14 days established by the Afghan government in Spin Boldak. Pakistan has also established quarantine centres in Chaman for around 900 people as it had also decided that all Pakistanis returning from Afghanistan would also spend 14 days in quarantine.

Published in Dawn, April 7th, 2020