ISLAMABAD: Minister for Information and Broadcasting Senator Shibli Faraz on Friday said that the violent clashes which took place at the Chaman border a day earlier occurred due to the government’s efforts in putting a stop to smuggling.
On Thursday, at least four people were killed and 19 left injured during clashes between protesters and security forces at the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Addressing a press conference here, Shibli Faraz said that the borders of Torkham, Ghulam Khan and Angor Adda were closed on account of Eidul Azha and in light of the prevalent situation of coronavirus.
He said that after the borders’ closure, most of the people who had gathered to cross it, dispersed. However, a few hundred stayed behind.
“About 3,000 people used to come and go from the border every day,” Faraz said.
The minister said that it was a few rogue elements among those who had stayed behind who incited the others to violence. “As a result, people tried to cross the borders forcefully.”
“When the checkposts were damaged, we were forced to retaliate,” Faraz said, adding: “Shots were fired from across the border, which further worsened the situation.”
“The government has put a stop to smuggling which has caused such elements to create a situation where the law and order is disturbed,” the information minister noted.
Faraz said that Afghanistan is a land-locked country and most of its trade is done through Pakistan. In this regard, the minister said that the governments of both countries have mutually decided that the border will be opened soon to resume trading activities.
The minister said that Pakistan has always taken care of Afghanistan’s imports, but observed that a lot of smuggling takes place at the Chaman border. “We have ramped up restrictions and keep a record of all activities taking place there.”
He hoped that Kabul would cooperate in seeing to the enforcement of border rules.
Hundreds of protesters belonging to the All Parties Traders Union had been staging a demonstration at Friendship Gate against the border’s closure for the past two months.
The protesters reportedly forcibly removed the barricades placed in the area surrounding the gate and attempted to cross the border.
Furthermore, they had allegedly set fire to computers at a National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) office for border management, about 100 containers belonging to the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) as well as tents and offices at a quarantine centre nearby.
Security forces had fired aerial shots to disperse the protesters. Additional troops of the Frontier Corps and Levies were also summoned to quell the protest.