Closed Afghan-Pakistani Border Is Becoming ‘Humanitarian Crisis’ - nytimes
KABUL, Afghanistan — Pakistan has kept its border crossings with Afghanistan sealed for more than two weeks, with thousands of Afghan visitors stranded in Pakistan and traders unable to move their vegetables and fruit across.
After a suicide bombing at a shrine in Pakistan’s Sindh Province on Feb. 16, which killed more than 80 people, the Pakistani military shut its borders with Afghanistan, saying the terrorists behind the attack had sanctuaries in the country. It also carried out shelling into Afghanistan.
Omar Zakhilwal, Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan, said Sunday that if the border did not open soon, his government would be forced to airlift its stranded citizens, which could be a new low in the relationship between the neighboring countries.
Their 1,600-mile border has long been a contentious issue. Ever since the fall of the Taliban government in 2001, Afghan and Western officials have said that the Afghan insurgency’s leadership maintains havens in Pakistan, particularly in the city of Quetta. The free movement across the border has helped the militants avoid defeat in a 15-year war led by the United States.
In recent years, the Pakistani authorities have said the leaders of the militant groups waging deadly attacks inside their territory are based across the border in Afghanistan.
Mr. Zakhilwal, the Afghan ambassador, said some leaders of these attacks on Pakistan might be in Afghanistan, but they mostly operate in areas controlled by the Afghan Taliban. He said his government, along with the United States-led coalition, had targeted Pakistani militants in Afghanistan, including the mastermind of a massacre of children in a Pakistani school in 2014.
Imran Khan, an opposition leader in Pakistan, said on Saturday that the border closing was “building into a humanitarian crisis.” He called on both governments to resolve the crisis so “those with valid travel documents and perishable goods” could cross. - More