LANDI KOTAL: Possession of Pakistani passport was made mandatory on Sunday for cross-border movement by Pakistani nationals at Torkham border after expiry of the deadline on December 31.
Authorities had made announcements through loudspeakers and displayed banners at prominent places at the border to apprise Pakistani nationals about the new restrictions prior to expiry of the deadline.
Authorities said that the new restrictions were imposed after arrest of a number of suspected Afghans with fake Pakistani Computerised National Identity Cards (CNICs).
Earlier, authorities had permitted Pakistani nationals to use their CNICs for cross-border movement but ended the relaxation after receiving information about preparation of fake CNICs in Nangarhar province of Afghanistan.
Officials told Dawn that Shinwari tribal people, living on both sides of the Durand Line, would be exempted from possessing passport as they were already issued temporary ‘Rahdari’ cards by Khyber Agency political administration after necessary verification.
New restrictions imposed after expiry of deadline on Dec 31
They said that so far 3,800 Rahdari cards were issued to Shinwari tribesmen since September 2015. These cards are renewed after every six months.
Officials said that no visa on passport was required for Pakistani nationals and the policy was implemented in a bid to discourage misuse of fake CNICs. They said that at least 200 Pakistanis without their passports were refused entry into Afghanistan while around 480 locals crossed the border and came back by using their CNICs and Rahdari cards.
Sources said that the number of Afghans having legal travel documents was increased manifold since Pakistan imposed the new policy of allowing only those Afghans, who had valid Pakistani visa stamped on their passport.
The number of Afghans coming to Pakistan through Torkham was reduced considerably from almost 20,000 per day to 1,200 after last year June 1 restrictions as the rest were refused entry for not having legal travel documents.
Officials said that with the passing of time, Afghans got accustomed to the new border management policy of Pakistan and most of them acquired passports while demand for Pakistani visa also increased.
They said that an average of 4,000 Afghans with Pakistani visa on their passport travelled to Pakistan on daily basis.
They said that acrimony caused between the officials of both countries posted at Torkhum after the cross-border firing incidents in June last year due to the construction of Pakistan Gate had also reduced to a great extent. The Afghan officials showed willingness in implementation of the border management policy.
Officials said that they were also trying to develop new software for hassle-free movement of Afghan transporters to boost bilateral trade between the two neighbouring countries.
couretsy : dawn news