Pakistan on Thursday temporarily closed a key border crossing with Afghanistan, apparently due to fear of the influx of refugees eager to leave their homeland after the Taliban seized power last month.
Chaman border crossing – the second-largest commercial border point with Afghanistan after the Torkham commercial town in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa – has been closed due to security threats, Geo News reported, citing sources.
Earlier in the day, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had said that the Chaman crossing may be closed for some days due to security threats.
“We will be closing the Chaman crossing for a while,” he said, without specifying how long the border would be shut. He said there was calm in and around the border.
“Our forces are present at the border. We are proud of our security institutions for the service they are rendering for the security of the country,” he said.
He said Pakistan desires peace and stability in Afghanistan, adding that peace in Afghanistan is important for peace in Pakistan.
The crossing links Pakistan’s border town of Chaman with Spin Boldak in the Afghan province of Kandahar and is frequented by the Afghan as well as used for trade between the two countries.
Thousands of Afghans have been amassing around the crossing to sneak into Pakistan which has already announced that it was not in a position to accept more refugees, according to security officials.
Already around 3 million Afghan refugees have been living in Pakistan, some for more than three decades, since the invasion of their country by the erstwhile USSR in 1979.
Pakistan officials have expressed fears that about a million more would rush into the country if border regulations were relaxed.
Currently, more than 90 percent of Pakistan’s over 2,500-kilometer border with Afghanistan has been fenced, and only about a dozen crossing points allow entry to those having valid travel documents.