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12 killed in deadly stampede as thousands rush for Pakistan visas

Farhad Naibkhel

KABUL: A deadly stampede broke out Wednesday in Jalalabad, and at least 12 people were killed and tens were injured as thousands thronged at a football stadium to apply for Pakistan visa, officials said.

Nangarhar Governor Spokesman Attaullah Khogyani said 12 elderly women were killed in a stampede that took place as thousands of people rushed to enter a football stadium that was designated by Pakistani embassy to receive applications for visas.

He said that 10 women and three men were wounded.

Pakistan resumed its visa consulate services in Afghanistan last week after eight months of shutdown in the wake of COVID-19 outbreak. But people from seven provinces are required to travel to Nangarhar province to apply for visa.

He stated that applicants were asked to gather at a stadium in a bid to prevent from overcrowding in the Pakistan Consulate in Jalalabad city. He added that more than 320 policemen and women and tens of civil employees were tasked for security and administration work.

The stampede occurred as tens of thousands of people tried to get visas in the first day of the resumed visa services.

The Pakistani embassy in Kabul in a statement expressed condolences for the death of Afghans in Jalalabad and vowed more facilities in the coming days. “Pakistani embassy in Kabul and its consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat, and Mazar-e-Sharif continue to issue multiple entry visas to Afghan applicants,” it said.

The embassy pledged its commitment to ensure smooth and effective management of visa applicants.

Many people travel into Pakistan for treatment as Afghanistan has minimal health care facilities. But since the spring, Pakistan had drastically reduced the number of visas that it issued to Afghans, hoping to minimize the spread of the coronavirus.

The tragedy rings terrifying bells of mismanagement and our dependence on Pakistan for our medical needs and calls for immediate involvement of the government.

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