Some of the Afghan transport mafia backed by the Afghan government barred the ‘Pak-Afghan Dosti Bus Service’ in Afghanistan while thousands of passengers, including men and women of old age and children, are waiting to travel and celebrate Eidul Fitr with their relatives in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Haji Nasir Khan, the managing director of Pak-Afghan Dosti Bus Service, said that this bus service symbolised friendship between the people of Pakistan and Afghanistan. He said it has been halted by the Afghan government a few days before Eidul Fitr to run between Jalalabad and Peshawar.
Khan said that he had started the bus service between Peshawar and Jalalabad in 2006. He said six to ten buses daily cross the Torkham border while five to eight hundred passengers of both the countries preferred to travel on Pak-Afghan Dosti buses.
“I met with General (r) Pervez Musharraf in 2006 and requested him to start a bus service between Pakistan and Afghanistan. A license was issued to me after I fulfilled all the required documents,” recalled Nasir and added that since then, his 15 buses and taxi cabs have been providing passenger services to thousands of passengers travelling to and from Pakistan via the Torkham border.
He said that due to recent tension over the Torkham gate installation between the two neighboring countries, his bus service also suffered. He said a month ago, the Dosti buses stopped its services as Afghan transporters, with the help of the Afghan government, warned them not to enter Afghanistan. He said daily supply of Pakistani newspapers and magazines to Afghanistan done through his bus service has also been halted. He said with the halt and suspension of his 15 buses, several workers, including drivers and other crew members lost their jobs.
Khan said he was getting Rs 1.5 million per month from his bus service. He said that he formally informed the Pakistani government officials concerned, including Joint Secretary in Islamabad Altaf Asghar, Director Routes of Pakistan Shoaib Dogar and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Transport Director Manzoor Ahmad Khan, about the ban by the Afghan government.
He said that Manzoor has also raised the issue with the Afghan government and issued clearance letters to the political agent of Khyber Agency and authorities at the Torkham border. Khan appealed both the governments to provide facilities to commuters and live like real brothers. He said, “Blood is thicker than water as no one can divide Pakhtoons of both the countries through border restrictions.”
The passengers who frequently travel between Afghanistan and Pakistan have asked the Afghan government to lift the ban and allow the Pak-Afghan Dosti Buses to run in Afghanistan. Merwais Afghan, an Afghan national, said that he lives in Peshawar and used to go to Afghanistan by the Dosti buses. He said it is quite difficult for him to take many passenger coaches and taxi cabs to reach Jalalabad.