LANDIKOTAL: Pakistani and Afghan border officials engaged in discussions at the Torkham border ‘zero point,’ but the talks proved unproductive, according to official sources on Tuesday.
The Pakistani delegation, led by Lt Col Rana Adnan Shafiq of the Frontier Corps, included Major Murad, Major Bahlool, and Torkham Tehsildar Daud Afridi. On the Afghan side were Qari Abdul Jabbar Hekmat, Qari Rafiullah, Qari Muhammad, and Maulvi Takal.
The meeting addressed various border issues, emphasizing the need to resume vehicular and pedestrian movements across the border. Afghan representatives raised concerns with Pakistani authorities regarding passports and visas for drivers and helpers of vehicles, urging them to ease conditions for the benefit of business and transportation communities in both nations.
Afghan officials expressed discontent over the abrupt suspension of trade activities at the Torkham border, deeming it contrary to social and international norms. They argued that such actions caused tension and discomfort for traders, patients, and citizens without prior notice.
Claiming that 90% of Afghan drivers and patients lacked passports, they prioritized patients with serious illnesses, such as cancer, for obtaining passports and visas. Afghan authorities cited resource limitations for document issuance and urged Pakistani authorities to allow patients on humanitarian grounds.
Afghan officials conveyed concerns about the complicated reopening of the border and visa issues, emphasizing their desire for amicable relations with Pakistan. They warned that closing the border without notice might force Afghanistan to erect a permanent barrier at the Torkham crossing.
Allegations were made against Pakistani Embassy and consulates for rejecting visit visa applications without providing reasons. Lt Col Adnan informed Afghan officials that passport and visa conditions had been pending since November 2 of the previous year, emphasizing a lack of cooperation from Afghan counterparts.
While facilitating cancer patients to reach Pakistani hospitals promptly, Lt Col Adnan assured to convey Afghan assertions to relevant departments. However, he noted Kabul’s reluctance to share data on Afghan drivers and their assistants with the Pakistani Embassy in Afghanistan.