Thousands of Afghans rush to Pakistan border

New Delhi, Oct 23 (IANS): Thousands of Afghans made a beeline for Torkham border crossing early on Friday morning when the news about resumption of cross-border pedestrian movement spread in most parts of the neighbouring country, Dawn reported.

The number of aspiring Afghans was so high that Pakistani authorities had to deploy additional security personnel to prevent crowding and panic at the border crossing.

It was also learnt that the Afghan Taliban made repeated announcements on loudspeakers to its "unruly" nationals to avoid congestion at the border crossing and let only those, who needed the most, cross over to Pakistan, the report said.

However, the announcements fell on deaf ears as the Afghans made desperate bids to get online visaS for Pakistan.

Bilal, a 28-year-old resident of Laghman province in Afghanistan, told Dawn that he got an online visa on Friday morning after spending a sleepless night near the border crossing.

He said the number of people, including women, children and the elderly, was so high on the Afghan side of the border that it was literally impossible for both the Afghan and Pakistani authorities to entertain everyone's request for visa.

Abdullah, a resident of Nangarhar province, also said he reached Pakistan after getting visa online.

He said though majority of Afghans welcomed the resumption of pedestrian movement via Torkham border, it would take the authorities weeks and months on both sides of the border to clear the "waiting lot" as Afghans had started reaching Torkham in large numbers after learning about the border reopening for ordinary people.

Pakistani officials also confirmed crowding on the border and said security clearance was meticulous and painstakingly slow.



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