South Asia

Pakistani political parties, traders rally for visa-free border movement in Chaman

People waiting to cross the Torkham crossing to Pakistan. File photo

Various political parties and traders in Pakistan organized a protest in Chaman on Saturday, decrying stringent border checks and urging for unrestricted movement for people living on both sides of the border.

Hundreds of demonstrators obstructed the main road near the Chaman border, pressing the provincial and federal governments to address their concerns.

The protest, led by Salahuddin Achakzai and other political leaders, resounded with chants against the new policy, which allowed only individuals with valid visas to enter Pakistan.

A coalition of political parties from Chaman, including Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, Balochistan Awami Party, Pashtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party, Jamaat-e-Islami, Mazloom Olsi Tehreek, and Pakistan Muslim League-Q, joined forces with civil society and local residents, amassing significant numbers for the sit-in.

The demonstrators demanded the removal of all border crossing conditions, including the requirement for passports and valid visas.

They argued that recent government-imposed conditions, stemming from strained relations between Kabul and Islamabad, were causing difficulties for people on both sides of the border. The protesters contended that cross-border movement was the primary source of livelihood for the region, and the closure of the border or stringent entry conditions into both countries would not be tolerated by Chaman and Boldak residents.

The protesters asserted their resolve to continue the sit-in and protests until all their demands were met. They rejected measures such as visa requirements and stricter merchandise supply, emphasizing that the Pak-Afghan border should be reopened and the previous travel system reinstated for the well-being of both border communities.

The speakers stressed that such stringent measures would only exacerbate the challenges faced by local residents, for whom cross-border trade between the two countries served as the sole source of income.

This development comes as Pakistan has set a deadline until November 1 for over 1.7 million Afghan immigrants to leave the country, warning of potential deportation.