November 6, 2023
By Nadeem Khan
The protest against the imposition of passport conditions at the Chaman-Span-Boldak crossing point has entered its seventeenth day, organized by the All Pakistan Tradesmen and Laghri Alliance, which represents those working at the crossing point.
Pakistan Government’s decision to require traders to have visas and passports for crossing borders came into effect at the beginning of November. Thousands of political workers, traders, and tribesmen have been protesting against this decision for several days now, but media coverage of their demands is restricted.
Protestors are demanding the restoration of the previous eligibility criteria to cross the Pak-Afghan border, which only required national identity cards. Olus Yar Khan Achakzai, the leader of the Chaman protest rally, told Voicepk.net that this new policy will affect approximately thirty-five thousand people.
“Our sole source of income is through this border; Chaman city lacks industries or cultivation lands, and our ability to work depends on our access to Afghanistan,”
Olus explained, referring to the economic crisis this decision may impose on the locals of Chaman.
Traders and locals have been crossing the border for years to conduct business, typically returning at the end of the day. According to a conservative estimate, around 30,000 people from Chaman city cross the crossing point every day to do business in the Vish Mandi of Spain Boldak in Afghanistan and return back to Chaman at night.
Olus Yar Khan added to his demands, stating that they require eased movement across the Shashmahi border. For six months of the year, locals live in the mountain ranges of Pakistan, and for the remaining six months, they settle in the plains of Afghanistan near the border areas.
The protestors have pointed out that the contract of the Durand Line border stipulated that locals in the peripheral areas of the Shashmahi border could cross without any documents to conduct their business or to reside in a more adaptable climate.
Several attempts at negotiations have been made between the protestors, local administration, and governing bodies, but no conclusion has been reached despite numerous discussions.
Sadiq Achakzai, President of the Trade Union, while speaking to Voicepk.net on behalf of the affectees said,
“We are not asking for anything new but we are asking for the reversal for previously established procedures.”
No major media coverage has been provided to those who have been protesting for 17 days now. Achakzai said, “Electronic media has been barring our voices, we appeal to the world to help us out. There is no other way for us to earn, the government has not done any thorough planning, and their decisions will leave us high and dry.”
According to the protestors, the protest will continue until their demands have been met but the local bodies have been cracking down upon their protest.