South Asia

Pakistan’s new Chaman border visa rules ignite protests despite government stand

The recent implementation of a revised visa regime at the Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan has sparked weeks-long protests, despite the government’s firm decision to enforce the new policy.

As reported by Dawn news, Pakistan’s national apex committee, consisting of both civil and military officials, had previously determined that only individuals possessing valid passports and visas would be allowed to cross the border.

This marks a departure from the previous practice, where Pakistani and Afghan nationals could cross with their respective national identity cards.

The announcement triggered a sit-in protest, with demonstrators expressing concerns that the new policy would have adverse effects on nearly 40,000 people who rely on daily border crossings for their livelihoods.

Balochistan Information Minister Jan Achakzai, confirming the government’s commitment to the new rules, faced mounting pressure from various quarters, including political parties.

Achakzai clarified that a one-time permission has been granted to Afghans arriving in Chaman with Afghanistan’s national identity cards to enter their country. However, upon their return to Pakistan, they will be required to show a passport and visa.

This development unfolds as Pakistan continues its expulsion of documented foreign nationals, deporting as many as 1,890 people to Afghanistan. Pakistani media outlets reported on Thursday that 325 Afghan families, including 508 women and 906 children, were repatriated to Pakistan in 186 vehicles.