QUETTA: Negotiations between the Balochistan government and the participants of a sit-in at Chaman remained fruitless on Wednesday as the All Parties Traders Alliance refused to call off the protest unless its demands were accepted.

The demands include restoration of the permission to cross the Pak-Afghan border on production of the national identity card only.

The government had announced earlier this month that no one would be allowed to cross the border without a valid passport and visa after Oct 31.

Provincial Information Minister Jan Achakzai held talks with the protesters’ leaders and the local administration in Chaman on Wednesday.

In his meeting with the protesters, Mr Achakzai said: “It’s the government’s responsibility to regulate the border.” But the other side urged the government to reverse its decision as it would affect the livelihood of thousands of people on both sides of the border.

Mr Achakzai, talking to newsmen in Chaman, said no government in the world allows people to enter its territory without passport.

“Every foreigner must show a valid passport and visa for entering another country,” he said.

In reply to a question, he said the government would try to resolve the agitators’ demands.

He appealed to political parties to assist the government in addressing grievances so that “we come up with the best possible solutions to solve problems”.

The information minister said the provincial government was committed to providing “effective solutions” for bringing about an improvement in areas like education and health.

Referring to border trade, Jan Achakzai said the government wanted to strengthen ties with neighbouring countries through business and commerce.

“Border markets will be established to promote bilateral trade, but smuggling will be prevented at all costs.

“By promoting the trade of essential goods with Iran and Afghanistan, we will strengthen our relationships. But the movement of people across the borders is being regulated through documentation out of security concerns,” Jan Achakzai said.

The minister said with implementation of the one-document regime, “we will ensure the provision of facilities to the public”.

Illegal immigrants will be repatriated, but individuals who comply with the law will not be affected, he added.

Published in Dawn, October 26th, 2023

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