Border Bedlam: Thousands of Afghans flock to cross over to Pakistan

Kabul, Oct 24 (EFE).- Thousands of Afghans have flocked at a border crossing with Pakistan after the two countries resumed pedestrian movement on both sides of the boundary.

Those aspiring to cross over to Pakistan include patients seeking medical treatment, students for higher studies, people wanting to visit their families, and those trying to flee Afghanistan fearing Taliban rule.

The border crossing at Turkham opened for pedestrian movement on Thursday evening to allow Afghan men and women and the stranded Pakistanis into Pakistan after some months of suspension.

The two countries resumed the border movement after Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and outgoing chief of Inter-Services Intelligence Faiz Hammed traveled to Kabul Thursday.

“There are thousands of people (…) disparately waiting on the Afghan side,” Ziarat Gul, a laborer in Turkham, told EFE.

He said the situation was chaotic amid fears of a stampede as people jostling to reach the border gates were losing their belongings in the melee.

“A few hundred lucky ones reached the gates and crossed over to Pakistan,” he said.

Sayeeda Irfan, traveling with her two children and husband, told EFE that they arrived at Turkham early Friday.

Irfan said they waited for almost 36 hours before entering Pakistan on Saturday afternoon.

She said her daughter Spogmai, 3, fainted in the melee and was saved after Taliban security men rushed to pull her back from the crowd.

“Spogmai was unconscious for sometime but now she is fine. We have to see if she suffered any internal injuries,” she said.

Witnesses alleged that the Taliban used force to control the surging crowd and beat people with sticks and rifle butts.

“My husband (…)was also beaten by the Taliban,” Irfan said.

Officials said travelers with passports and Pakistani visas were only allowed to enter Pakistan via Turkham.

The Nangarhar governor’s office told EFE that security forces temporarily closed the border gates to keep the crowds and bring some order.

“The gate is open for people with valid documents,” said the official.

The office said the transit point was also open for trade through Turkham, one of the two main border crossings and transit ports between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The other critical border crossing is in southern Kandahar that is still closed.

Hazrat, a shopkeeper in Turkham town near the crossing point, told EFE that some people returned disappointed after waiting without success for nearly three days.

An Afghan official in Turkham told EFE that many travelers were fleeing the country to live in Pakistan or wishing to shift to western countries.

Related Articles

Back to top button