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Editorial: Torkham hardships

Taking notices of complaints pertained to indifferent attitude with countrymen on the part of officers and personnel of Pakistan organs, ambassador at Islamabad Wednesday visited Torkham. Ambassador Shukarullah Atif Mashaal concluded his trip with making a request to the host government for increasing strength of FIA immigration staffers, which according to him could minimize miseries of the Afghan nationals who are visiting Pakistan for various socio-economic, health, education and other purposes. Whatever might be outcomes of Atif Mashaal’s visit or request to Pakistani authorities but he deserve appreciation as since a long he is the first ever Afghan diplomat in Pakistan who realized his responsibilities of addressing miseries and complaints of the countrymen. Torkham is considered one of the busiest crossing points between the two countries at international level. From last several years, one could witness queues of thousands of people before immigration and other government departments right from dawn till dust at Torkham. One could reach in Torkham from Kabul in four and from Peshawar in one hour but they are bound to consume from four to five hours in Torkham just for stamping of passport offices. Similarly drivers and transporters are bound to stay from one to three days for clearing documents. And on such grounds not only today but several decades ago, the international monitors and observers have made suggestions for enhancing infrastructures as well as personnel of various government departments for early disposing off of immigration, customs and other matters of passengers crossing over the crossing points. Earlier, the crossing point was known for free-movement but couple of years back, Pakistan went for one-sided restrictions on the pretext of “crossing point security arrangement” thus enhancing hardships for the people of both the countries, travelling and visiting each others. Though maltreating of people, especially Afghans at Torkham by Pakistani security personnel is an old practice but in recent years it reached to its peak. On one hand Pakistan has made compulsory passport with valid visa as essential for travelling between the two countries. Likewise are the conditions for bilateral trade between the two countries but it (Pakistan) yet to take steps for ensuring posting of required strength of immigration, customs and trade departments at the crossing point. Similar is the situation on Afghanistan sides. But compare to Pakistan, there is still no any restrictions either for own countrymen or Pakistani nationals. Whatever might be mode of relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan and restrictions on crossings and requirements/conditions for stay but no one could block people from both sides of visiting each others. In according to Geneva Conventions, neighboring countries couldn’t block its citizens of visiting each others on the grounds of relations and friendships. On such grounds, Kabul and Islamabad are bound to take steps for ensuring maximum facilities and infrastructures on all crossing points and making easy the system. 

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