|Pakistan Reopens Border With Afghanistan for 2 Days
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — Pakistan temporarily reopened its border with Afghanistan on Tuesday, 18 days after sealing it over security concerns.
“More than 2,000 Afghans have so far moved across the border,” Shamsul Islam, an official at the border crossing at Torkham, said by telephone.
“Thousands of others are waiting to be allowed exit into Afghanistan,” he said. “There are long queues. Clearance and immigration take time.”
Pakistan announced late Monday that it would open the border for two days “on humanitarian grounds” to allow Afghans stranded in Pakistan to leave for home.
The move came after protests about the closing from Afghanistan, which warned of a looming humanitarian crisis. Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, Omar Zakhilwal, said on Sunday that his government might be forced to airlift its stranded citizens out of Pakistan.
Pakistan shut the border crossings last month after a series of bombings rocked the country. Pakistani officials say that militant groups operating from Afghanistan carried out the attacks, and they urged Kabul to capture the militants inside Afghan territory.
Afghan officials have complained about the presence of Afghan Taliban militants on the Pakistan side of the border and say that senior officials of the militant group have managed to find havens inside Pakistan. Both sides claim that they have no control over the militants hiding inside their borders.
Pakistani border officials say that Afghan citizens with valid travel documents would be allowed to cross back into Afghanistan during the temporary reopening period. “Undocumented Afghans were not being allowed,” Mr. Islam said. Undocumented Afghans are routinely rounded up in the country and deported. However, in the current standoff with Afghanistan, they are not being allowed to leave.
He said that nearly 400 Pakistanis with travel documents, who had been stranded in Afghanistan, were also allowed to enter the country.
Trade between the two countries remains suspended and containers laden with good destined for Afghanistan remained stranded in Pakistan.
It remains unclear how long Pakistan plans to keep the border closed after the brief reopening this week.