Pakistan returns 252 Afghans in goodwill gesture

Islamabad, Feb 25 (IANS) Pakistan has returned 252 Afghan nationals to their home country in a goodwill gesture even as it kept the border entry points with Afghanistan shut for the ninth day for security reasons in the wake of a series of bombings.

The Afghan nationals, who were returned on Friday, spent a week under the open sky as the Torkham border crossing point between two nations remained closed for nearly 10 days, Geo Tv reported.

Trade between Islamabad and Kabul has come to a halt as Pakistani authorities closed the Torkham and Chaman crossing points with Afghanistan due to security concerns in the wake of series of terror attacks across the country.

People with valid travel documents are allowed to cross the border on foot, a Pakistani official said.

However, Afghan Ambassador to Pakistan Omar Zakhilwal said the border crossings will partially be opened on Saturday.

He said elderly persons, patients and children would be allowed to travel and those in Pakistan would be able to return to Afghanistan on Saturday.

The border crossings were closed following a terror attack at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan town of Sindh province which left 88 persons dead earlier this month.

Pakistan has blamed militants operating in Afghanistan for the attacks. The Islamic State affiliated Jamaat-ul-Ahrar group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Pakistan Army last week pounded militant hideouts across the border in Afghanistan and killed militants belonging to the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

–IANS

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