Facilitation for Afghan nationals at Pak-Afghan border | By Dr Muhammad Khan


Facilitation for Afghan nationals at Pak-Afghan border

The Foreign Policy of Pakistan is reflective of its relationship with international community including neighboring countries. Among the neighboring states, Afghanistan is a key state where Pakistan has always ensured friendly relations with a dedicated support of Afghan masses. Being a landlocked state, Afghanistan’s main imports and exports have been taking place through Pakistan. On its part, Pakistan has been facilitating in the smooth processing of Afghan trade all Pak-Afghan border. Besides, it has been the main source for provision of immediate logistic support and health care for the people and government of Afghanistan. Pakistan did not stop Afghan trade and commerce during the crises time, once its soil was extensively used by Indian spying network; Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) in collaboration with NDS for promotion of terrorism and militancy in Pakistan from 2001 to 2021. Though, it is still being practiced under a changed framework.

Indeed, promotion of peace, stability and helping the Afghan masses through all possible means has always been hallmark of Pakistan’s foreign policy. This policy is a constant factor hence continuing even today, once there is un-recognized interim government of Taliban in Kabul since mid-August 2021. Pakistan never closes the Pak-Afghan border except once forced upon owing to threats of militancy and terrorism from Afghanistan. Rather, whenever there is border closure, the reason is Afghanistan; the flow of militants from Afghanistan into Pakistan. There have been thousands of terrorist attacks on Pakistani military posts including removal of fence erected by Pakistani military in last two years since Taliban took over the Kabul. But, after negotiations and talks with Afghan officials Pakistan always ensured smooth movement of Afghan nationals into Pakistan.

Unfortunately, despite this good will gesture of Pakistan, there have been incidents where Pakistan was blamed by Indian and Afghan media for mistreatment of Afghan masses during border crossing. Pakistan currently has five crossing points (CPs) operational with Afghanistan. These CPs include; Chaman, Torkhum, Kharlachi, Ghulam Khan and Angoor Ada. As a average, 13000 Afghan cross these CPs along Pak-Afghan border on daily basis. This crossing includes; passage of pedestrians, patients, traders, tourists and transporters. Pakistani officials make sure that, there is no un-necessary hindrance is created in the smooth flow of these people. The average monthly crossing of these people stand about 385,000 passengers besides the huge conveys of traders and heavy trailers. Pakistan is manning over 100 counters at the crossing points to ensure smooth processing of a heavy inflow of cross-border movement. This is being done despite limited resources of Pakistan. It is worth mentioning that, there is no bordering state in the world that accommodates other state at such a massive scale.

As of March 2023, Approximately 79 counters are being maintained at two main points; Chaman and Torkham, being the busiest CPs. Pakistan has Integrated Border Management System (IBMS) in place at main crossings, which supports which allows One Document Regime (the valid visa/ passport). Nevertheless, Pakistan accommodates Afghan masses other than this system (IBMS) on humanitarian grounds. As a routine matter, Pakistani Government facilitate people like; patients, students, women, children, old people and traders and journalists through alternative arrangements like Tazkera (non-valid) document to cross into Pakistan being brethren. on humanitarian grounds. The Government of Pakistan has established exclusive counters at crossing points for Afghan patients and women. Afghans entering into Pakistan either on valid or invalid documents are allowed to extend/ renew their status to stay in Pakistan for any duration. Indeed, thousands of Afghan nationals are crossing over to Pakistan without valid visa, since Taliban Government does not allow the people to move out of Afghanistan under various reasons. Pakistan allow this border crossing for Afghan brethren without passport for facilitating them to earn their livelihood, to visit their relative, address any medical emergency or get education is an exclusive offer extended by Pakistan, which no other state offers. There are people involved in the militancy and terrorism in Pakistan; they may be Afghan nationals or else Pakistani nationals hiding in Afghanistan as part of militant organizations like TTP and Daesh (ISK). The disguised people of these militant organizations are denied visa and entry into Pakistan due to obvious reasons of security. Since they are field operatives of the RAW and former Afghan spying network NDS, therefore create disinformation about Pakistan. How can Pakistan allow them entry into its soil for promoting terrorism? As per available data, 5000-6000 people of this category are denied entry into Pakistan each month. They are indeed specially used for creating false accusations of denial of entry into Pakistan or else accuse of mistreatment. These people are generally known militants are their abettors and supporters.

This negative propagation is being done through a well-planned strategy by India and former officials of NDS. Otherwise all Afghan nationals are being treated honorably by the officials of Pakistan at all border crossing points. Indeed, unlike the prevalent sentiments in Afghanistan about Pakistan, the Government of Pakistan and Pakistani masses have positive, welcoming and optimistic approach about theirAfghan brethren. They are always warmly welcomed being Muslim brothers and sisters and especially at the time of crises.

It is worth mentioning that, over 3 million Afghan refugeesare residing in Pakistan since decades. They all are being treated like Pakistani nationals without any discrimination. Indeed, there is no precedence of such a gesture of hospitality and openheartedness anywhere in the world, therefore, Pakistan must be appreciated for accommodating their Afghan brethren. — The writer is Professor of Politics and IR at International Islamic University, Islamabad.

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