Taliban close border with Pakistan, demand Pakistan dismiss visa restrictions

Taliban close border with Pakistan, demand Pakistan dismiss visa restrictions

The Taliban closed a key border with Pakistan on Friday, demanding that Pakistan eliminate or relax visa restrictions for Afghans.

“No one would be allowed through until Islamabad dropped or relaxed its visa requirements for Afghans,” they said.

Last month, the Taliban, who are wresting control of Afghanistan from Afghan forces after the departure of the US and other international soldiers, seized the southeast Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing.

Last Monday, Pakistan reopened its side of the bridge, which is landlocked Afghanistan’s second busiest entry port and major commercial conduit to the sea.

However, after the Taliban seized control of Chaman-Spin Boldak, Pakistani border authorities have started rigorously enforcing visa requirements for Afghans, which were previously ignored.

The Taliban demanded that Pakistan remove all visa restrictions for Afghans in a statement released on Friday.

In a statement, the insurgent group’s shadow governor for Kandahar province said, “(The crossing) will remain closed for all types of commuting, including transit and trade, for both sides, and pedestrians, until the Pakistani side leaves the gate open, morning to evening, for Afghans holding [Pakistani issued] migration cards or ID cards.”

Fighting between the Taliban and Afghan forces has increased substantially since US-led foreign soldiers started leaving Afghanistan earlier this year. The Taliban have made significant advances on provincial capitals and senior government officials within Kabul in recent weeks.

The group has also seized control of a number of border crossings, including those with Iran and Central Asian nations, although the crossing with Pakistan generates the most income from customs.

The road was utilized by 900 vehicles a day before the Taliban took it, according to Afghan official statistics.

The shutdown may affect the import of medications and other critical commodities, as violence in Afghanistan has risen dramatically in the middle of a pandemic, with the UN estimating that hundreds of thousands of people have been internally displaced.

According to Pakistani border authorities in Chaman, the Taliban had erected concrete obstacles on their side of the Friendship Gate, the border crossing point between the two nations, to obstruct the route.

On Friday, Pakistan reacted by shutting its side of the border, stranding people, passengers, and cargo trucks.

Islamabad has given migration cards to many Afghans residing in Pakistan, enabling them to remain, but those who want to visit Pakistan today must acquire a visa.

Pakistan is seen as crucial in persuading the Taliban to take part in serious peace negotiations with the Afghan government.

Read more: https://pakobserver.net/pakistan/

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