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Chaman Border: Pakistan reopens southwestern border crossing with Afghanistan for routine traffic

Afghanistan-bound trucks pass through a valley while moving toward the Torkham border crossing in Torkham, Pakistan, June 18, 2016

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FILE - People cross the border coming from Afghanistan to Pakistan, at the border town of Chaman. Pakistan will reopen the Chaman border crossing for routine traffic on Sept. 1, 2016, after days of closure, officials said. Image source: VOA
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Pakistan-Afghanistan will reopen a southwestern border crossing, for routine traffic on Thursday after days of closure, stranding thousands of travelers and trade convoys on both sides, officials said.

The Chaman border facility was closed about two weeks ago when Afghans staged an anti-Pakistan demonstration on their side and some angry protesters attacked the border gate and burned a Pakistani flag, according to officials in Islamabad.

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A spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), which guards the Pakistan border, Wednesday cited “successful negotiations” between senior Pakistani and Afghan border authorities for agreeing to resume the traffic.

An official Pakistani statement said Afghan negotiators “condemned the August 18 incident” and promised to take preventive measures in future.

The two sides agreed to “pay due respect to each other testimonials” and hold a monthly flag meeting to address issues of mutual interest for ensuring a “peaceful environment.

Afghan and Pakistani traders said the border closure caused them millions of dollars in losses and urged both the governments to take steps to ensure uninterrupted movement in both directions.

There are four regular crossings between Afghanistan and Pakistan along their 2,600-kilometer frontier. But the Chaman and the northwestern Torkham border posts serve as the two main crossings for trade and travelers.

Afghanistan-bound trucks pass through a valley while moving toward the Torkham border crossing in Torkham, Pakistan, June 18, 2016.
Afghanistan-bound trucks pass through a valley while moving toward the Torkham border crossing in Torkham, Pakistan, June 18, 2016. Image source: VOA

Afghanistan-bound trucks pass through a valley while moving toward the Torkham border crossing in Torkham, Pakistan, June 18, 2016.

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An estimated 50,000 people, mostly Afghans, travel across the two facilities each day in addition to hundreds of trucks carrying trading goods to landlocked Afghanistan.

Construction of a new gate at Torkham by Pakistan recently prompted deadly clashes between Afghan and Pakistani border forces, suspending traffic there for days.

The border tensions stem from a deterioration in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent months over mutual allegations of supporting terrorist attacks on each other’s soil.

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  • Kabir Chaudhary

    Pakistan opens south-western border to Afghanistan not to routine traffic but for drugs, arms and terror activities.

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American Friends of Balochistan welcomes Trump’s Tough stand on Pak

The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) issued a statement Monday welcoming Donald Trump's stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

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Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons
Donald Trump is famous for his rude comments towards brown people. wikimedia commons

Washington, D.C.– The American Friends of Balochistan (AFB) Executive Committee issued a statement Monday welcoming the President’s stand on US-Pakistan relations, calling it a vindication of its own stand.

The AFB said President Donald J. Trump has called out Pakistan’s constant bluffs with the US and pointed out a big chunk of American assistance was used against people of Balochistan in a secret, dirty war instead of the Taliban.

Khwaja Wali Kirani in Balochistan. Wikimedia Commons

“The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies & deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools. They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!,” President Trump first tweet of 2018 reads.

The tweet was loved by nearly quarter-million Americans and retweeted 83,000 times in less than 24 hours.

The AFB executive committee said the US remains Pakistan’s top foreign aid donor, in addition to the money paid in expectation of cooperation in the Global War on Terror. Yet, for many years now, serving officers in the US Armed Forces have repeatedly spoken out about Pakistan’s perfidy in Afghanistan, which has cost the US lives, money and strategic credibility in the world’s eyes. Pakistan also remains a training ground for terrorism and a prime proliferator of nuclear weapons technology.

No country’s development and democracy have suffered more from Pakistan’s interference via state-sponsored terrorism than Afghanistan. US efforts to help the Afghans rebuild their nation are constantly sabotaged by reeling instability. India is another well-known target.

The AFB said Balochistan is a region rich in natural gas. It that has seen several bloody cycles of insurgency ever since Pakistan forcibly annexed the autonomous Baloch state of Kalat in 1948 in violation of a Standstill Agreement. A portion of historical Balochistan also sits on the other side of Pakistan’s border with Iran. Further, it borders Afghanistan to the north-west. Pakistan’s brutal record in this strategically located province that forms the northern lip of the key Straits of Hormuz has spiked in recent years.

“People of Balochistan tried their very best to work with Pakistan’s false promises of integration after forceful accession, but instead gave genocide to Balochs,” said the statement.

The AFB monitors the situation in Balochistan closely and is in touch with freedom and democracy activists on the ground. The AFB reiterated their call to the Pakistani government to cease violating the physical security of Baloch people, their freedom of expression, and end the policy of economic exploitation and genocidal violence.

A slow-motion genocide in Balochistan has claimed the lives of 35,000 Baloch people, 6,000 of whom were buried in mass graves while 21,000 are Victims of Enforced Disappearances, according to the Voice for Baloch Missing Persons. “The enforced disappearances situation in Balochistan is no different than what it used to be in Chile and Argentine in the 1970s and 1980s,” the AFB executive committee noted.

The AFB executive committee chimed in with similar sentiments expressed by policy experts in academe, veteran politicians, diplomats, intelligence chiefs, and human rights activists. Among them were former Afghan President Hamid Karzai, leading South Asia expert and former Pakistani ambassador Hussain Haqqani, several Baloch freedom and human rights activists cutting across party lines, former head of Afghanistan’s Directorate of Security Amrullah Saleh, and even normally fierce critics of President Trump’s administration such as Prof. Christine Fair, Provost’s Distinguished Associate Professor Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.

The AFB executive committee consists of Jane Eastwood Weisner, Najeeb Khan, Krishna Gudipati, Soumya Chowdhury and Habiba Ashna. The organization was founded by veteran Baloch journalist Ahmar Mustikhan, who is the president.

Hope and doubt have been expressed on whether the US president’s tweet and words will translate into actionable legislation. Mustikhan published a survey of some of these thoughts in an article titled “Wave of joy sweeps across Afghanistan, Balochistan & India over Trump’s first tweet of 2018”.