- Afghan officials deny entry to traders, shopkeepers as they tighten visa restrictions
PESHAWAR: The Afghan government officials and security forces personnel have denied entry to all those Pakistani traders and shopkeepers who are engaged in daily crossing over the border on the grounds of visa.
Earlier, in the light of Pakistan’s almost two-year-old decision pertained to an Integrated Border Management system, the two countries had agreed on declaring a compulsory visa on a valid passport along with other travelling documents for people visiting the two countries. However, small-scale traders, carriers and shopkeepers mostly associated with auto spare parts were exempted from these restrictions in the wake of requests made by tribal elders from both sides.
Yet from July 1st, 2018, Afghan officials across the border have first detained a number of shopkeepers who did not have a visa for Afghanistan and later on announced the decision’s implementation in one week.
On Saturday, the Afghan government refused entry to all Pakistani nationals without a valid visa, soon after which border officials at Torkham formally pasted notices outside the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Immigration Complex stating that entry to Afghanistan would be denied to those without a visa.
Syed Chiragh Shah, an auto spare part shopkeeper from Peshawar, who had travelled between the two countries on daily basis for the last 15 years confirmed that he was detained for a couple of hours because of not having a visa.
He said that Pakistani authorities have now issued notices advising people not to enter Afghanistan without visas.
Speaking to Voice of America (VOA), Chiragh Shah said that the restrictions are causing severe hardships for all those engaged in trade activities but tribesmen living along the Pak-Afghan border are getting relaxations.
Pakistan Afghanistan Joint Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PAJCCI) Vice President Zia-ul-Haq Sarhadi has expressed concern over the latest round of restrictions on people from trade and business sectors. He said that there has been a decline in bilateral trade between the two countries from the last several years which could be further aggravated.
Neither has the Afghan government formally issued a statement regarding the newly introduced restrictions nor have the Afghan officials been contacted for their point of view in this respect.