Thousands of Afghans, Including Freed Taliban Prisoners, Flood Pakistan
Thousands of Afghans, including recently freed Taliban prisoners, entered Pakistan this week through a border crossing located between the Afghan city of Spin Boldak and the Pakistani city of Chaman, Al Jazeera reported Tuesday.
“Thousands crowded through a newly installed passage for Afghan travellers[sic] into Pakistan at Chaman, with people directed through a wire-link fence topped with barbed wire from the international border to a transportation hub located less than a kilometre[sic] away,” according to Al Jazeera, which sent reporters to the crossing this week to interview immigration officials from both sides of the border, along with Afghan travelers.
“Many of those gathered at the border told Al Jazeera that they were there to receive relatives who had been released from Afghan prisons by the Taliban,” the Qatari government-funded news organization revealed.
People gather around a Taliban flag as they wait for relatives released from jail in Afghanistan following an ‘amnesty’ by the Taliban, near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing point in Chaman on August 17, 2021. (-/AFP via Getty Images)
One such freed prisoner, a man identified as Sanaullah, told Al Jazeera that Afghan security forces captured and imprisoned him at Afghanistan’s Bagram prison in 2013. The Taliban seized control of Bagram prison in July and released about 7,000 of its inmates, according to Sanaullah.
“The Taliban came and freed us from prison, there were close to around 7,000 prisoners, and we were freed in about two hours by the Afghan Taliban,” he recounted.
Pakistani government officials said about 20,000 people used the Spin Boldak/Chaman border crossing August 16, roughly double the daily traffic that typically passes through the corridor. Of the 20,000 travelers who used the passageway Monday, about 13,000 were Afghans crossing into Pakistan, Balochistan Home Minister Zia Langove told Al Jazeera. Chaman is located within Balochistan province.
The Taliban is currently in control of the Spin Boldak/Chaman border crossing on its Afghan side after the jihadist group captured Spin Boldak’s border district in July as part of its successful campaign to wrest control of major Afghan cities and provinces from the Afghan government over the past few months. Spin Boldak’s fall to the Taliban forced the temporary closure of the city’s crossing with Chaman, but it reopened August 14 after the terrorist group demanded Pakistani government authorities “allow Afghans stranded in Pakistan to cross the border,” the Press Trust of India (PTI) reported. Bowing to pressure from the Taliban, Pakistan began to allow “persons with Afghan Identity Cards or Refugee Registration Cards issued by Pakistan” to cross into Pakistan via the passageway starting Saturday.
PTI described the Spin Boldak/Chaman border crossing as “economically critical” to both Pakistan and Afghanistan, as it generates tremendous amounts of revenue for both sides.
“Nearly 1,000 trucks carrying commercial goods cross the border each day during times of peace,” according to the news agency.