Pakistan Closes Torkham Border Again
 
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Pakistan closed the Torkham border to Afghan citizens without visas and refugee cards, Pakistani border officials said Saturday.

They added that the order came from the federal government to restrict cross-border traffic only to people with Pakistani visas.

Afghan citizens, who are stranded at the border and facing the winter cold, have asked the government to help resolve the issue.

"Thousands of sick people with serious conditions are stranded on the border. Afghan citizens face more difficulties than Pakistanis. There are no Pakistani women or children on the border -- all are Afghan," an Afghan woman told TOLOnews.

Afghans travel frequently to Pakistan for medical visits, usually for cases more serious than Afghan medical facilities can handle. They also frequently travel across the border for business and to meet families.

The Afghan consul general in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, the Pakistani province where Torkham border is located, said talks with Pakistani officials are underway.

"Border officials said that we do not allow those who have not extended their refugee cards. But when we called Pakistani officials, they said that Afghans who have refugee cards should be allowed to cross the border," said Sayed Mohammad Ibrahimi.

Millions of Afghans lived in Pakistan during the period of conflict in Afghanistan. Their cross-border has been largely unimpeded except for periods of border closures.

The current closure comes after another recent border closure two weeks ago when Pakistani truck drivers complained of mistreatment in Afghanistan. More than a dozen people, mostly Afghans, were reported to have died in the two-day period because of the cold and not receiving timely medical attention.

 

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