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Thread on #chamanborder situation

1. Chaman is the most imp border town along Durand Line in BAL. Social setup here is tribal. The DL has divided villages, tribes and relatives.

There are houses with one gate in Pak’s territory & another gate falling Afghan territory.
2. Border towns like Chaman & Taftan r backbone of BAL’s largely-informal economy. Closure of borders literally chokes economic activity in province.

Across #Chaman is the Waish Mandi, where Transit trade goods are offloaded. What we know as smuggling is trade for local people.
3. For decades, residents of Chaman used local permits to cross border. Didn’t need visas.

Over 30,000 ppl crossed border on daily basis. These included: Pak daily wagers & traders working in Waish; Afghan men, women & children coming to Quetta for medical checkup; lagharhis;
4. Lagharhis are individuals who physically carry & smuggle small items (ie TV, old tyres, desktop & other electronic items) across border into Pak. They earn Rs 1-2K a day. Their number is around 25-30K. Using mainly dangerous informal routes, they put lives at risk for 1-2K.
5. Chaman border was closed in early March due to Covid.

While other COVID-related restrictions were lifted, the border remained closed.

1000s of people were stranded on both sides. It also meant loss of livelihoods for lagharhis & small traders-who started a sit-in last month.
6. After protesting for over a month, the sit-in was ended 2 days ago as the Govt of Pak agreed to open the border for movement of people.

Today, the border was closed again, which brought the protesters in confrontation with FC. 3 ppl have reportedly died & 20 injured so far.
7. Now let’s analyse the situation:

GOP wants to introduce visa regime, which is unacceptable to ppl of Chaman. Visas will not only disconnect relatives 4m each other but also result in loss of livelihoods for 50,000 families. These ppl don’t have alternative means of livelihood
8. GOP is trying to exploit Covid situation to forcibly implement visa regime.

Requirement of visa is unacceptable for local ppl who have relatives & businesses across border.

Besides, visas will seriously disrupt businesses. GoP has no plan for compensating for these losses
9. GoP needs to get over its insecurities reg Afghan border. Border fencing is near completion. Pashtun nationalists are part of mainstream Pak politics.

It is time Pak strives for regional integration through trade. Peaceful & integrated borders will only make Pak more strong.
10. Cross-border trade has remained the primary source of livelihoods for ppl of Chaman for centuries.

Requirement of visa can’t be implemented overnight.

If the Govt is bent on introducing visas, it should first take steps for provision of alternative livelihood opportunities
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