Chaman border reopened for pedestrians after talks with traders

By: News Desk      Published: 12:21 PM, 21 Aug, 2020
Chaman border reopened for pedestrians after talks with traders
File photo.

Pakistan on Friday reopened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman after seven months of closure, reported 24NewsHD TV channel.

The border was shut down seven months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. Traders and businessmen had been staging protests demanding reopening of the Bab-e-Dosti at the Afghan border.

After successful talks between the federal government and the All Parties Tajir Ittehad, the border was reopened for pedestrians only.

Both Afghan and Pakistani sides confirmed the reopening of the frontier for pedestrians, adding that the border crossing will remain open on all days of the week.

Thousands of Pakistanis and Afghans are now crossing the border on foot amid tight security.

About a week ago, the authorities relaxed the closure for trade activities only. Amid tight security, Pakistan had opened its border with Afghanistan at Chaman for resuming Afghan transit trade and other business activities after a high-level meeting held in the border town.

Officials said that 317 trucks loaded with dried fruit and other goods crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan a week ago under an import and export agreement.

A senior official in the town’s administration said that border authorities allowed over 300 long-body trucks carrying Afghan transit goods to cross into Afghanistan after completing Customs and other legal formalities. The trucks had been waiting for many weeks in Chaman.

He said that around 180 empty trucks returned to Pakistan from Afghanistan. These trucks and their drivers were stranded in Afghanistan after the border between the two countries was closed due to Covid-19. They were waiting to return to Pakistan after unloading Afghan transit goods in Vesh Mandi area of Afghanistan.

On July 31 last, at least three people, including a woman, were killed and over 20 injured in a clash between an unruly mob and security forces at Friendship Gate border crossing in Chaman.

A large number of people gathered and staged a sit-in at Friendship Gate with the intention to cross the border on the last day of the last month. Frontier Corps (FC) personnel asked them to move away from the gate, but they refused to do so. The FC officials told them that the gate would not be opened until shifting of the protesters from the site.

Meanwhile, a large number of Afghan nationals, including women and children, also gathered there for crossing into Afghanistan. However, when the gate was not opened by the border officials, the protesters became violent and attacked the offices of FC and other government agencies located at the Friendship Gate and set the FC and Nadra offices on fire.

FC personnel fired bullets in the air to disperse the mob but with the passage of time more people joined the protest from both sides of the border. Meanwhile, officials said, some gunshots were also heard and a mob attacked the 300-room quarantine facility established in containers close to the border and set it on fire.