Pakistan says ‘closely following’ situation in Afghanistan

Afghanistan’s eastern neighbour says its embassy is open and ‘offering assistance’ to those seeking consular help or visas.

People arriving from Afghanistan make their way at the Friendship Gate crossing point at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman [Abdul Khaliq Achakzai/Reuters]

Pakistan’s government says it is “closely following” developments in Afghanistan, as Taliban fighters surrounded the Afghan capital Kabul and panicked civilians prepared for a possible Taliban takeover of the country.

In a statement released on Sunday, Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, the spokesman of the Pakistani foreign ministry, said the Pakistani embassy staff were providing assistance to those needing consular help or passage on flights out of the country.

“Pakistan is closely following the unfolding situation in Afghanistan,” said Chaudhri. “Pakistan will continue to support the efforts for political settlement. We hope all Afghan sides will work together to resolve this internal political crisis.”

Chaudhri said the Pakistani embassy in Kabul was “extending necessary assistance to Pakistanis, Afghan nationals and diplomatic and international community for consular work and coordination of [the Pakistani state-owned airline’s] flights”.

A special team has been established at Pakistan’s interior ministry in the capital Islamabad to process visas and other documentation for international diplomatic personnel, United Nations workers and members of multilateral international organisations and media workers, the foreign ministry said.

Stranded people crossing the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan at Chaman [Jafar Khan/AP Photo]

Pakistan has two main border crossings with Afghanistan, at Torkham in the northwest and Chaman-Spin Boldak in the southwest of Pakistan.

Early on Sunday, Taliban forces were reported to have captured the key city of Jalalabad, adjacent to the Afghan side of the Torkham border crossing, and seized control of the border post there.

Pakistan suspended border activity following that development, the interior ministry said.

In Chaman, in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, however, the border crossing remained open, local officials and journalists said, with travellers permitted to travel back and forth between the two countries.

The border was open, and Afghan nationals who hold a valid identification document or refugee identification documents were allowed to cross, said Ajab Khan, a local security official.

Source: Al Jazeera