New Delhi: The first day of the limited opening of two border points between Afghanistan and Pakistan saw Afghan officials close the Chaman border point because they wanted Pakistan to take back their citizens too.

From Monday, Pakistan has opened Torkham and Chaman border points at the request of the Afghan government, for four days, to allow the return of its citizens.

The border has been closed due to a coronavirus pandemic for more than a month, which has left stranded Afghans and Pakistanis in their respective territories.

As per the Afghan news agency PajhwokThe Afghan Embassy in Pakistan has announced that only 1,000 people per day will be allowed into the country based on bilateral understanding with Pakistan.

Returning citizens must be quarantined separately in different locations – Afghans in the cities of Torkham and Spin Boldak, and Pakistanis in Chaman.

At 10 am Monday, the border points at Torkham and Chaman are opened. Special priority should be given to women and children.

However Pakistani Newspaper Dawn has reported that the return of Afghans went smoothly for only five hours.

After some 400-500 Afghans returned, the Afghan border authorities closed the border with Pakistan in Chaman around 3 pm, the newspaper reported. “Officials say that Kabul wants Pakistan to also allow Pakistani citizens stranded in the border city of Afghanistan, Spin Boldak in large numbers to cross into their country,” the report said.

A district official in Pakistan, Zakaullah Durrani, told Dawn that Afghanistan had closed the border “suddenly”.

According to the article, Afghan authorities want Pakistan to also take back their citizens who were stranded in Spin Boldak.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan border authorities negotiate at the border but this problem cannot be resolved until the closing time of the border at 5 pm. The Afghan border authorities say they will not open the border until the problem is resolved, “the report said.

It is not yet clear whether the Chaman border point was opened on Tuesday, but there are reports that the Torkham border has a large influx of Afghan citizens hoping to capitalize on the relaxation of border restrictions.

Afghanistan has reported that 423 COVID-19 patients were positive, until Tuesday morning.


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