Pakistan sets visa requirement for Afghan drivers at Torkham crossing

Pakistani authorities have announced a visa requirement for Afghan drivers and businesspeople, setting March 31 as the deadline for compliance. This notice has raised concerns among Afghan drivers who find obtaining a Pakistani visa increasingly difficult, as they claim their applications are not being processed.

This new policy is anticipated to impact trade between the two countries significantly. “After March 31, Afghan drivers will not be allowed to cross the border without a Pakistani visa,” the statement detailed. However, drivers like Sahran Khan express frustration over the lack of visa issuance. “I have applied for the visa, but it has not been issued yet. Every day I wait, but no driver has received a visa. This will only add to our problems,” Khan stated.

The drivers argue that the policy will negatively affect bilateral trade and have urged Pakistan to reconsider its decision. Hijaz, another driver, highlighted the potential financial impact: “Everyone, including drivers and truck owners, will suffer. Being stranded for even one day could mean a loss equivalent to a month’s earnings.”

Economists point out that Pakistan serves as a crucial commercial hub for Afghan products. Azeraksh Hafizi, an economist, warned that the closure of these trade routes could lead to an economic disaster for Afghanistan, affecting both exports and imports of essential goods.

The Afghanistan Chamber of Commerce and Investment previously noted that due to challenges at business crossings with Pakistan, many traders have shifted their focus from Pakistan to Central Asia and Iran’s Chabahar Port.