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Pakistan bars citizens from entering Afghanistan without visa

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Shamim Shahid-PESHAWAR: In according to Pakistan government’s decision of management on the Durand Line, no one is allowed to enter Afghanistan without passport at Torkham from Sunday (January 1st 2017).

However, tribesmen from Shinwari and Afridi tribes are exempted of passport and visa restrictions and they are allowed to travel between the two countries on showing of National Identity Cards or Special Rahdari passes, issued to them by local political administration of Khyber Agency.

In the light of government’s decisions, border officials at Torkham confirmed denying entry to around 200 persons who were lacking passports. The first day decision, yielded positive results when no one reached on the Durand Line at Torkham without any visa.

Eye witnesses informed that border officials are stamping with EXIT passport of those countrymen who intends to enter Afghanistan at Torkham even without any visa. The Afghan government has already exempted all Pakistanis, especially tribesmen of entering Afghanistan without passport and visa. Purposes of stamping or screening of passports aimed at discouraging crossing over of Pak Afghan border with fake National Identity Cards, issued or made on both sides of the border.

Pakistani authorities started issuing of special Rahdari Passes to tribesmen living on both sides of the Durand Line in September 2015 last. But couple of months of back, the process was suspended when government decided of making compulsory crossing over the Durand Line with passport and visa. So far the officials in Khyber Agency issued passes to around 3800 tribesmen who are frequently crossing over the Durand Line.

Akhlaq Khan Shinwari while talking to this correspondent has confirmed exemption of Afridi and Shinwari tribesmen of visa restrictions whereas no other Pakistani nationals are allowed to do so. He, however, confirmed that from January 1, 2017 the new system is in operation which has affected centuries old trade and social relations in the area.

So far the special Rahdari system is implemented in Khyber Agency but officials are hopeful about its extension to other tribal agencies. In this respect, tribesmen have made appeals before Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on the eve of his visit to Khyber Agency couple of days back. Government’s decision of restricting crossing over the Durand Line posing bad impacts on trade, communal and social relations between the two countries. At once from 20,000 to 25,000 people have to cross the Durand Line only at Torkham but now the figures ranging between 3,000 and 5,000.