BAJAUR: Forty-six Afghan soldiers, including five officers, who had taken refuge in Pakistan to escape a siege by the Afghan Taliban on Sunday, were ‘amicably returned’ to Afghan authorities at Nawapass Pak-Afghan border in Bajaur tribal district, said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Monday night.

In a statement issued here, the ISPR said the Pakistan Army had given the soldiers of Afghan National Army (ANA) and border police a safe passage to Pakistan in Arundu sector of the Pak-Afghan border, Chitral, on July 25 at their request.

“After necessary clearance, the Afghan soldiers [had] crossed into Pakistan with their weapons, ammunition and communication equipment.

“The soldiers have now been amicably returned to Afghan authorities on their request along with their weapons and equipment. Pakistan will continue to extend all kinds of support to our Afghan brethren in time[s] of need,”the military’s media wing said in the statement.

A day earlier, the ISPR said the army had provided ‘refuge and safe passage’ to the Afghan soldiers after they lost their military posts along the border.

It also said a local ANA commander posted in Afghanistan opposite Arundu, Chitral, had sought help for 46 soldiers, including five officers, as they were unable to hold their military posts along the Pak-Afghan border due to the ‘evolving’ Afghan security situation.

“The soldiers had subsequently been provided food, shelter and necessary medical care “as per established military norms,” the ISPR said on Monday.

VACCINATORS PROTEST: The polio vaccinators staged a protest here on Tuesday against the non-payment of dues and said they won’t take part in the upcoming anti-polio campaign until those payments were made.

Scores of those health workers from different areas of the region participated in the protest outside the district headquarters hospital, Khar.

They insisted that they had always performed assigned tasks with commitment and sincerity despite being offered very low wage but the relevant authorities, especially the local health department, didn’t acknowledge their efforts and delayed their wage payment.

The protesters insisted that they had been denied wages for eight vaccination rounds to their financial misery.

They said the health department had promised to pay them wages a year ago but the promise turned out to be false.

The protesters also complained about ‘low’ wages and said they’re given only Rs250 per day during the anti-polio drive.

Published in Dawn, July 28th, 2021

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