AFGHAN women and children sit beside trucks, loaded with their belongings, in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province upon arrival from Pakistan, on Monday.—AFP
AFGHAN women and children sit beside trucks, loaded with their belongings, in Spin Boldak district of Kandahar province upon arrival from Pakistan, on Monday.—AFP

QUETTA/ISLAMABAD: As the Afghan transit trade through Chaman remained partially suspended by those holding a sit-in at the border crossing against new travel rules, the Senate also witnessed debate on the issue on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Balochistan government issued a stern warning to those trying to create hurdles in the implementation of official policy about undocumented immigrants as well as terrorists.

Caretaker Information Minister Jan Achakzai said, “Pakistan is against all kinds of terrorism and those facilitating terrorists are equally responsible for the violence.

“We know how to respond to the terrorists if the incidents of terrorism do not stop, then we will enter their [terrorists’] house and kill them.”

Achakzai claims terrorists will be ‘targeted in their homes’; senators from Balochistan seek leniency on travel issue

Addressing a press conference at the Quetta Press Club, Mr Achakzai complained that Pakistan had received insecurity in return for the hospitality it extended to Afghan refugees for decades.

Referring to the Afghan transit trade that was partially suspended on Monday because of those holding a sit-in at Chaman to protest against new travel rules between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the minister said no-one will be allowed to take the law into their hands.

Mr Achakzai said Pakistan has been repeatedly demanding the handover of suspects wanted for their involvement in terrorist incidents in the country but the Afghan authorities have not heeded to its calls.

He pointed out that Pakistan has received weapons and violence in exchange for the hospitality extended to Afghan refugees.

In response to a question, he said, “In no circumstances will we come under pressure of any political party because we have not come to get votes from people but to take decisions in the interest of the country”. He said 120,000 illegal immigrants have returned from Balochistan to Afghanistan so far.

Debate in Senate

A number of senators, mostly from Balochistan, while speaking on points of order, drew the attention of the house towards the ongoing protest at Chaman due to closure of the Pakistan-Afghan border.

The senators demanded that people of Chaman should be allowed to travel to Afghanistan as they had relatives and businesses on the other side of the border.

They regretted that the issue had surfaced at a time when the top government functionaries, including the prime minister, interior minister, Senate chairman and the chief justice of Pakistan, all belong to Balochistan.

Responding to the senators’ call, Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said the government wanted to solve the sit-in issue through negotiations. “We held a detailed discussion with the representatives of the sit-in, and our preference is to resolve the issue through negotiations,” he said.

The minister, however, said it was not possible to allow around 40,000 people to cross the border daily without proper travel documents.

He said the Afghan nationals would only be permitted to enter Pakistan through legal documents.

The minister outlined plans to regularise borders with Afghanistan, similar to the Torkham [Afghanistan] and Wagah [India] borders. He said it was not possible for the government to allow foreigners to travel and establish businesses anywhere in Pakistan without following proper procedures.

Published in Dawn, November 21st, 2023

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