Afghan Truckers Now Require Mandatory Visas At Torkham Crossing
Officials recently met at the Torkham border, deciding that passports and visas should be mandatory for commercial vehicle drivers from both Afghanistan and Pakistan. This decision aims to legally stabilize trade, enhance security measures, and prevent smuggling. The move has been praised by traders and truck drivers.
Trade at the border came to a halt last Friday due to a dispute over visas. Pakistan had tightened border regulations last year, making it compulsory for Afghan truck drivers to carry a passport for crossing into the Pakistani side. As not all Afghan drivers possess this travel document, trade was recently suspended, with officials on both sides engaging in disputes.
Afghan border official Abdul Jabbar Hekmat confirmed that Torkham was closed to commercial truck drivers without visas from Pakistani authorities. Pakistani officials denied imposing a visa requirement but confirmed the border closure, explaining that a valid passport was now necessary for crossing. They attributed the closure to Afghan officials, citing prior agreements that made passport requirements necessary.
In recent months, visa regulations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have tightened as part of Pakistan’s crackdown against illegal refugees. The Pakistani government mandated that, by November 1, 2023, illegal refugees must either leave the country voluntarily or face deportation. Trade at the Torkham border had previously halted over visa regulations, but negotiations at senior levels resumed it.
Pakistan justifies the crackdown, citing security and economic challenges. However, it has faced criticism for impacting Afghan refugees. Afghanistan denies any involvement in subversive activities in Pakistan and urges rights groups to intervene against deportations. The recent decision to make passports and visas mandatory for transit aims to regulate trade, improve security, and prevent illegal activities at the Torkham border.