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Strand Afghans protest in Landi Kotal

By Shamim Shahid-PESHAWAR: In a bid to convince Pakistani authorities of allowing them to enter their motherland, hundreds of Afghans stranded due to sealing of Pak Afghan border at Torkham have staged a protest demonstration at Landi Kotal Khyber Agency on Sunday.

The protesters along with their belongings after assembling and stopping by personnel of security forces at Mechani Post, marched towards Landi Kotal in a procession. They chanted slogans in favour of their just and lone demand-open the border and let them to proceed to their motherland. Inside the border town of Landi Kotal, these Afghan protesters were also accompanied by a number of local tribesmen who are extending them food facilities from last 10 days.

Hukam Khan an Afghan national who was working as Labour in Rawalpindi was included amongst the protesters, told VOA that he was part of the peaceful protest just to convince Pakistani authorities to let them to enter their own motherland. He said that neither hotel owners and managers nor local tribesmen allowed to give them (Afghan nationals) accommodation, therefore, they are compelled to stay in mosques. But even they were evacuated from the already built mosques.

Hukam Khan said that now hundreds of stranded Afghans are compelled to stay under the roof of an under-construction mosque in outskirt of Landi Kotal town. There is no any sort of basic facilities in the under construction building. He said that all of them remain in Pakistan and spent good days, therefore, they may not be punished. They having nothing to do with government policies and respecting Pakistan and its people.

The tribesmen in Landi Kotal informed that they providing cooked food through collecting of donations to these stranded Afghan nationals. Amongst them around 300 are possessing Afghan passports with valid visa and the remaining are in possession of Proof Of Registration (POR) issued jointly by UNHCR and Afghan Refugees Commissioner through NADRA. These stranded Afghans are mostly patients and their attended and their visa’s already expired, therefore, they assembled on Pak Afghan border just in hunt of a chance to enter their motherland.

Two days ago Pakistani authorities announced allowing more than 250 Afghan nationals to enter their motherland at Torkham. But the procedure was named as deportation of arrested/detained Afghans to their motherland through political administration of Khyber Agency.

Besides Torkham, similar is the situation on almost other crossing points between the two countries. Across the border in Afghanistan, thousands of Pakistani nationals are also stranded due to sealing of borders in reaction of latest terrorist attacks in Lahore, Sehwan Sharif Sindh and Peshawar.

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