kHYBER: Awami National Party provincial president Aimal Wali Khan has cautioned the federal government that it will considerably lose its trade with Afghanistan if it fails to correct its ‘flawed’ border policy regarding Afghanistan.

Addressing his party workers in Landi Kotal on Wednesday, he said that trade would be diverted to Iranian Chabahar Port if relaxation in grant of visa and cross-border movement were not introduced at all the borders with Afghanistan.

Demanding round-the-clock opening of all border crossings with Afghanistan, the ANP provincial chief said that it would greatly help in augmenting bilateral trade between the two neighbouring countries alongside facilitating hassle-free pedestrian movement of people on both sides of the border.

Aimal Wali demands round-the-clock opening of all border crossings; says fencing failed to prevent terrorists’ infiltration

Objecting to the erection of a barbed wire on border with Afghanistan, he said that the Rs75 billion project of fencing the border could not help in terrorists’ infiltration into Pakistan and rather affected cross-border movement of common people from both the sides.

“What is the use of fencing the border when it has failed to achieve the desired results of preventing terrorists’ entry into Pakistan and a subsequent surge in terrorist acts in the country,” he said.

He demanded of the government to relax visa rules for Afghans so that they could easily come to Pakistan while the Pakhtuns should be allowed to freely go to the mausoleum of Bacha Khan in Jalalabad city of Afghanistan.

He said that Sikhs from India were allowed to visit their holy place in Kartarpur but the Pakhtuns living on both sides of the border were required to get travel documents which was lamentable.

The ANP leader said that borders with Afghanistan were closed on occurrence of a minor incident while the border with India was never closed despite occurrence of big terrorist incidents in the recent past.

“Frequent closure of Torkham and other borders have negatively impacted bilateral trade between the two countries while local traders and transporters have also incurred huge financial losses,” he added.

He said that with improvement in border management policy and provision of better facilities to traders of both neighbouring countries, the quantum of annual trade with Afghanistan could increase up to Rs5 billion per annum.

Criticising National Logistic Cell for its rude behaviour with citizens of both the countries, he said that it created hurdles in improving friendly relations with Afghanistan.

“Countries across the globe are striving to improve their friendly relations with their neighbours and increase the quantum of bilateral trade but the government has let loose NLC to insult Afghans on minor excuses to discourage them to come to Pakistan,” said Aimal Wali.

Earlier, the provincial chief of ANP along with thousands of his party workers forced his way into Khyber as the district administration had a day ago refused him holding a rally at Torkham.

Authorities had deployed baton-wielding tribal police on checkposts along the highway to Torkham from Jamrud onwards but ANP workers smashed all the barriers at these checkpoints also scuffled with the police. Nobody was, however, seriously hurt, nor were any arrests made.

ANP had to change its plan of holding its protest rally at Torkham border due to shortage of time and organised the rally at Bacha Khan Chowk of Landi Kotal Bazaar.

Published in Dawn, March 11th, 2021

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