Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered that the Pak-Afghan border should be re-opened. The PM explained that the gesture of re-opening the border is a “goodwill gesture” based on the relationship between the two countries which has been established from a long time.
The borders between Afghanistan and Pakistan was closed after the terrorist attack on the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Lahore. The authorities had allegedly stated that the terrorists involved had their ties with the Afghani militants, presenting that the attack was an attempt made by Islamic State (IS).
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Pakistan has been under a lot of pressure from the Afghanistan side to re-open this border. The Omar Zakhilwal, Afghanistan’s Ambassador to Pakistan, stated at the ECO conference, earlier this month, that regional connectivity can only happen if open borders existed and made a public request to Prime minister Nawaz Sharif to open these.
Pakistan has been fighting terrorism ever since the first blast at the Marriot Hotel Islamabad back in 2008. Almost ten years have passed and the terrorist organizations have established a stronger foothold within the country.
It is evident that the Pakistani government is not willing to risk the stability of the nation yet again and had hence, ordered the shutdown of the Pak-Afghan Border.
As the IS militants took responsibility for the blast in Lahore, the police and military in Pakistan joined hands to keep an eye over all possible suspects, who are mostly Afghans. Given the situation, the border closing can be justified as an attempt by the government to safeguard its nationals. Punjab police spokesman Niyab Haider had stated in this regard that “More than 350 suspects have been taken into custody, mostly Afghans, since the Lahore blast last Monday on the Mall Road.”
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Afghan nationals have been reportedly traveling to Pakistan using illegal means which protects their identity from being exposed. Having no identity cards has made the search of suspects hard for the security councils of Pakistan. Nevertheless, the repeated emphasis, made by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA), on getting mobile SIMs registered has narrowed the search to at least some extent.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif highlighted while ordering the opening of the border that the action is being taken in hopes of the Afghan government adhering to the security measures that it must take for the stability of the whole region.
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Earlier this week, the Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal had also urged PM to re-open the borders between the two countries.
“It will be the right message if Your Excellency instructs an immediate opening of our formal trade and transit routes between our two brotherly countries, Pakistan and Afghanistan,” Zakhilwal explained during the ECO summit.
Following the attack in Lahore which killed a 100 people and injured around 300 men, women, and children, the tension between the two states was found to be increasing. Afghanistan had refused to take part in its full capacity and the ambassador was sent to represent the Afghan government.
The PM also stated that “A durable peace in Afghanistan is essential for peace and stability in the region.” He further said that the border closure was creating problems for the ordinary people and the economy of the two states. Earlier this March, Torkham-Chaman borders were opened for a short period of time to allow the stranded Afghan nationals to return to their home country.