Pakistan reopens key Afghan border crossing after 5 months

Islamabad, Oct 22 (EFE).- Pakistan reopened Friday one of its two main border crossings with Afghanistan for pedestrian movement after remaining closed for over five months to supposedly stop the spread of coronavirus, according to official sources.

“The Torkham crossing point has been opened from today for pedestrian movement in light of the notification by the interior ministry yesterday,” Assistant Commissioner of adjacent Landikotal locality, Akbar Iftikhar, told EFE.

Iftikhar said that the border had been closed on May 5, but now after reopening, “hundreds of Afghans entered into Pakistan” on the first day itself.

Meanwhile, the second largest crossing point in terms of pedestrian movement, Chaman, was yet to be reopened.

“Chaman crossing point has not been reopened,” an official at the crossing point told EFE on the condition of anonymity, adding that they would “reopen it as soon as we get instructions from the government.”

Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi announced on Thursday after his visit to Kabul that pedestrian crossing hours on the border between the two countries would be increased from eight to 12 hours every day, while cargo trucks would be allowed to cross 24 hours a day.

Qureshi further said that online visa service had been started for the Afghan people, while visa on arrival would be available for emergency cases and those traveling for medical reasons.

An official at the Torkham crossing told EFE on condition of anonymity that all the passengers who crossed Friday were issued online visas as per the instructions of the federal government.

Pakistan closed all its border crossings with Afghanistan for pedestrian movement in May in order to check the spread of the coronavirus.

The government, however, allowed the movement of Afghans and Pakistanis looking to return to their respective countries. EFE


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