- Nawaz calls border closure against economic, public interests; ‘Pakistan to continue its cooperation with Afghanistan against terror’
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif on Monday ordered immediate re-opening of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border as a goodwill gesture and hoped that the reasons for its closure would be addressed by the Afghan government.
The orders came a month after it was closed following the deadly blast at a shrine in Sehwan, reportedly carried out by cross-border terrorists. More than 80 people, including women and children, were killed and hundreds of devotees injured in the blast at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine.
A statement from the PM House said that despite the fact that those involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan have a connection with anti-Pakistani elements in Afghanistan, the closure of the border between the two countries, having centuries old religious, cultural and historic relations, was against the economic and public interests.
The statement said that it has been decided to re-open the border as a good-will gesture with immediate effect, with the hope that the Afghan government would take the necessary steps, required to address the reasons that led to closure of the border.
The prime minister reiterated that lasting peace was vital in Afghanistan for the peace and security of Pakistan. In this regard, he reiterated his resolve that Pakistan would continue its cooperation with Afghanistan for the elimination of terrorism.
All border crossings with Afghanistan were sealed soon after the deadly attack inside the shrine. Earlier this month, Pakistan had temporarily opened the border at Torkham and Chaman to allow stranded Afghan nationals to return to their homeland.
The border crossings were opened on March 7 and 8, in order to provide an opportunity to those nationals of Afghanistan who had come to Pakistan on valid visas and wish to return to their country, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release had stated.
After the prime minister’s directives, the border crossings at Torkham and Chaman will be opened for routine trade, travelling and other economic activities from Tuesday (today). Officials in political administration said that they not yet received any new policy regarding the economic and other activities on the border.
Later, the Khyber Agency political agent was also summoned to the Frontier Corps Headquarter at the Bala Hisar Fort whereas he met with high ups. However, details and purposes of the meetings couldn’t be ascertained. The Afghan nationals including elders have hailed the announcement of the prime minister.