Torkham border gate opened to traffic
LANDI KOTAL: The newly built Pakistan Gate on the Torkham border was opened on Wednesday to both traffic and pedestrians, albeit without a formal ceremony.
Painted with colours of the national flag, the iron gate was opened at around 11am to vehicles crossing over to Afghanistan and coming into Pakistan.
Pedestrians were also allowed to use the side gate while walking on a fenced footpath.
Pakistan plans to build similar gates at seven other crossing points on the border with Afghanistan — at Arandu in Chitral, Chaman in Balochistan, Gursal in the Bajaur tribal region, Nawa Pass in Mohmand Agency, Karlachi in Kurram, Ghulam Khan in North Waziristan and Angoor Adda in South Waziristan.
A parliamentary standing committee was informed during a meeting in Islamabad last month that the gate would be inaugurated on Aug 1 but the plan was scrapped at the last moment by the border authorities, without citing a reason.
Officials then hinted that the ceremony could be held on Aug 8 and it was speculated that a very important personality was expected to inaugurate the gate.
Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Sayed Ibrar Hussain was present on the border when the gate was opened.
Officials said that no formal ceremony was arranged due to security reasons and also because the nation was in a state of shock after the Aug 8 suicide attack in Quettta.
During his visit to Torkham, the ambassador inspected the security arrangements on the border and met local security and administration officials. He also visited the offices of the customs department and a new security checkpost at Shaheed Morr.
A delegation of local businessmen, transporters and tribal elders met Mr Hussain and apprised him of the difficulties the new border management system had created for them in travelling and clearance of import and export goods between the two countries.
Some residents of Bacha Maina complained of harsh treatment by security guards posted at Shaheed Morr and asked the ambassador to relax checking of documents for local people.
Mr Hussain expressed satisfaction over the implementation of the border management policy at Torkham and assured the local traders and residents that he would convey their genuine grievances to the authorities concerned.