August 31st, 2021
By Hidayatullah Achakzai
The Afghan Taliban’s takeover of Kabul has prompted a large number of Afghans to leave their homeland and migrate to neighbouring Pakistan. Due to the closure of the Torkham border, the Chaman Spin Boldak closing has been under intense pressure because it is the only major border crossing between the two counties which is still operational. Fear of the unknown and a rapidly sinking economy are the major causes behind this sharp increase in migration from Afghanistan. Destitute families dragging their infant children across is a sight all too common at the crossing these days.
A large number of people entering Pakistan from Afghanistan are coming here for the treatment of their patients because continuing war has ravaged Afghanistan’s health care infrastructure. Official and conservative figures have put the number of Afghans crossing the border every day somewhere between 5000 to 8000 while independent sources have put the numbers at 12000 to 18000.
The arrival of such a large number of Afghan nationals in Pakistan has raised concerns among the authorities. In line with a previous agreement between the Afghan and the Pakistani government’s citizens of Afghanistan residing in areas between Kandhar and the border town of Spin Boldak can enter Pakistan using an Afghan National Identity card. This arrangement incentivized the Afghans to gather at the border in such large numbers.
Zabiullah an Afghan national residing in Kandhar tells Voicepk.net that he was forced to leave his home country and move to Pakistan because of the worsening economic situation in the country.
“There is absolutely no work in Afghanistan. People are dying of hunger because of which is why we were forced to cross the border. There is no functional government in the country we can complain to about the situation,” explains Zabiullah.
An Afghan woman sitting with her minor children on the border waiting for her children explained to Voicepk.net that “My family consists of 14 people. Out of these 14, we (the people sitting) are in Pakistan while the rest are stuck in Afghanistan. Two of my young daughters and two sons were left behind in Afghanistan along with my husband. People in Afghanistan are dying what else are we supposed to do,” explains the woman without naming herself.”
A burqa-clad woman from Jalalabad told VoicePk.net that she came to Pakistan for her husband’s medical treatment because Afghanistan’s medical facilities have been destroyed by the fighting.
“My husband is sick very sick. I have brought him here to Pakistan because there are no healthcare facilities left in Afghanistan. But because of the increased security, we have to overcome a lot of hurdles while crossing the border into the country, even for this important need,” explains the Afghan women.
Talking about the internal situation of Afghanistan the women explained that “There is a situation of absolute hunger in Afghanistan and we are not even being allowed to cross the border easily. The Taliban themselves fill their bellies with potatoes while the people starve. What should we do? Should we stop living?” asks the distressed woman.
The uncertainty in Afghanistan is pushing Afghans to cross into Pakistan in droves. The government seems ill-prepared to handle the influx as the human cost keeps on mounting.