KHYBER: The authorities on Friday opened the Torkham border crossing to pedestrians after the interior ministrynotified its opening six days a week.
The border officials told Dawn that fewer people were interested in travelling between Pakistan and Afghanistan on the first day of the border opening as Fridays used to be a closed day prior to the issuance of the interior ministry’s new notification.
They also said the notification wasn’t properly conveyed across the border and that they expected more people both Afghans and Pakistanis to ‘flock’ the border after learning about the new arrangements.
The immigration officials said 6000-7000 people would travel between the two countries daily, while the border would remain open four days a week i.e. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.
They said Saturdays used to be a bit hectic as most Afghans preferred to return due to the weekly holiday of Sunday in Pakistan.
Welcoming Pakistani government’s decision to keep the border open six days a week, Afghan trader Insaf Khan said soon after coming to Pakistan that the move would facilitate cross-border pedestrian movementand provide a much-needed impetus to the bilateral trade.
He said the permission for two more days of cross-border movement would also help overcome the pedestrian and traffic load on the border, while Afghan nationals would have the choice to better plan their cross-border movement.
The transporters also hailed the decision and said they would be able to move their consignments on time and thus, saving time and money.
Pakistan had closed all its borders with Afghanistan last March to stem the spread of novel coronavirus causing thousands of both Afghan and Pakistanis to get stranded on both sides of the border forover three months.
The restrictions were relaxed after repeated requests of the Afghan government to allow their nationals to return to own country.
Pakistan allowed stranded Afghans to return on every Saturday in July. The border crossing was reopened to both pedestrians and trade in Sept for four days a week with strict conditions of possessing legal travel documents for nationals of both countries.
ARMS SEIZED: The custom authorities at Torkham on Friday seized arms and ammunition from a truck carrying cement to Afghanistan after arresting the driver.
Officials said the seizure of 120 pistols, 43,500 cartridges and explosive powders came during the electronic scanning of the truck at the custom terminal.
Published in Dawn, February 13th, 2021