Afghan ambassador to Pakistan on Saturday said he will ask his government to provide chartered flights to airlift stranded Afghans in Pakistan if Islamabad did not reopen the crossing points within the next couple of days.
“Today in my conversation with Mr. Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, I conveyed to him that if in the next couple of days an opening was not allowed for the return of the stranded visitors I would ask my government to provide chartered flights to lift them. This, however, would reflect a very poor picture,” a statement posted on official Facebook account of Afghan envoy to Pakistan, Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal read.
About two weeks ago, Pakistan closed Torkham and Spin Boldak crossing points following a series of terrorist attacks in that country.
Zakhilwal argues that he had not been provided with a convincing justification regarding the closure of crossing points from the Pakistan’s military and civilian leadership.
“Argument that the closure of these crossing points was needed to stop terrorists’ crossing cannot carry any weigh as these points such as Torkham and Spin Boldak have been manned by hundreds of military and other security personal and have all the checking infrastructure and equipments in place.”
Afghan official believes that closure of trade and transit routes “cannot have any other explanation except to be aimed at hurting the common Afghan people”.
However, he emphasized that the closure was hurting Pakistan’s economy more.
“What actually gets hurt more is bilateral trade, with Pakistan losing more – Peshawar & Quetta in particular as Pakistan’s declining export share in Afghanistan is indicative of that.”
The statement further added that the continuous closure of trade routes also goes in direct contradiction to the theme and objectives of the recently held ECO summit that Pakistan hosted and led.
According to Afghan envoy the move has stranded about 25,000 Afghan citizens who have travelled to Pakistan with valid visas for business or medical treatment and are now stuck on Pakistan for more than two weeks.
Afghan envoy said Pakistani officials had repeatedly assured him that the crossing points would be partially opened to allow stranded visitors to return to their country, but “it hasn’t happened yet”.
By: Hesamuddin Hesam