- Title: Afghans stranded in Pakistan cross border after it reopens
- Date: 13th August 2021
- Summary: CHAMAN , PAKISTAN (AUGUST 13, 2021) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF STRANDED AFGHANS GATHERED AT PAKISTAN-AFGHANISTAN CHAMAN BORDER POINT VARIOUS OF MEN CARRYING SICK PATIENTS ON THEIR BACKS AMONGST CROWDS (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) AFGHAN FROM KANDAHAR, BACHA KHAN, SAYING: "The road has opened. We, people from both countries, are very happy. Sick people are lying around, most people don't have any money left to get food and other things. So we are very happy to be going to our homes." VARIOUS OF CROWDS OF AFGHANS LINED UP NEAR GATE (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) AFGHAN WHO HAD COME TO PAKISTAN FOR TREATMENT, MOHAMMAD KHAN , SAYING: "We are happy that the border has opened and our distress has come to an end. People had patients, and other problems, on this side of the border as well as on the other side. We are relieved that the way has opened." OFFICIALS USING BATONS TO PUSH BACK CROWDS AS THEY TRY TO PUSH THROUGH THE GATE VARIOUS OF PEOPLE CARRYING COFFIN AMONGST CROWD (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) AFGHAN FROM HELMAND, GHULAM MOHAMAD, SAYING: "I brought some patients here around 16/17 days back. First we were in Quetta, but we have been stranded here in Chaman for the last five days, (waiting) for the border to open." VARIOUS OF AFGHANS WALKING TOWARDS BORDER CROSSING (SOUNDBITE) (Pashto) AFGHAN FROM HELMAND, DR. KHAN MOHAMMAD, SAYING: "We have been stranded here for around nine days because of the Chaman border closure. Most travellers had just one night's expenses left with them. After that finished everyone sold their cell phones for half the price, now that money has also finished." VARIOUS OF PAKISTANIS STRANDED IN AFGHANISTAN WALKING ACROSS BORDER POST TOWARDS PAKISTAN
- Embargoed: 27th August 2021 15:37
- Keywords: Afghanistan Chaman-Spin Boldak Pakistsan Taliban border conflict fighting
- Location: CHAMAN, PAKISTAN
- City: CHAMAN, PAKISTAN
- Country: UK
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Europe,Insurgencies
- Reuters ID: LVA001EQ436MF
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Pakistani forces on Friday (August 13) used batons against Afghans stranded in Pakistan as they tried to cross a commercially vital border crossing with Afghanistan after it opened for the first time in days.
The Taliban, who captured the crossing last month as part of a major advance across Afghanistan as U.S.-led foreign forces withdraw, announced its closure on August 6 in protest at a Pakistani decision to end visa-free travel for Afghans.
The hardline Islamist Taliban are demanding Pakistan allow Afghans to cross the frontier with either an Afghan ID card or a Pakistani-issued refugee registration card.
Hundreds of Afghans, many of who had come to Pakistan for treatment and had waited in the dusty heat to enter Afghanistan via the Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing for several days, crowded the area near the border gate.
Police used batons against those gathered as they tried to break through the clearance barrier.
"Sick people are lying around, most people don't have any money left to get food and other things. So we are very happy to be going to our homes," said Bacha Khan from Kandahar.
Others said they had run out of money, and were desperate to get home.
The Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing is landlocked Afghanistan's second busiest entry point and main commercial artery to the Pakistani seacoast.
Taliban fighters have rapidly taken territory from the Kabul government in recent weeks, including important border crossings with Iran and Central Asian countries that now provide significant customs revenue for the group.
Some 900 trucks went through the Chaman-Spin Boldak crossing daily before the Taliban seized it.
Opening the border with Pakistan for visa-free travel would not only help the Taliban curry favour from ordinary Afghans but also shore up a route to areas of Pakistan that have housed Taliban fighters and some commanders.
Pakistan and the Taliban long maintained good relations though Islamabad says this ended after the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan that ousted the radical Islamists from power for having sheltered al Qaeda militants who carried out the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States.
Western capitals and the Kabul government say Pakistani support to the Taliban continues and many of its leaders enjoy safe haven in the country, something Islamabad denies.
(Production: Abdul Khaliq Achakzai, Salah Uddin, Sheree Sardar, Marissa Davison)
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