Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, in a Saturday meeting with Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal, expressed his sympathies for the people stuck on either side of the recently-closed border, DawnNews reported.
In a tweet following the meeting, Khan said: “Closure of Pak-Afghan border is building into a humanitarian crisis. The two governments need to cooperate effectively on cross-border terrorism.”
Both leaders also exchanged views on Pak-Afghan relations and were in agreement that negotiations between the two countries should resume at the earliest.
The Afghan ambassador highlighted the challenges faced by the Afghan people stuck on the Pakistani side of the border, to which the PTI chief said that urgent steps must be taken help the stranded.
The PTI chief also emphasised that talks between the two countries must be expedited so as to allow cross-border movement of trucks carrying import and export goods.
In another tweet, Khan reiterated that, “Those with valid travel documents and perishable goods should be allowed to cross border to mitigate the suffering of ordinary people on both sides.”
The hour-long-meeting was held at Khan’s residence in Bani Gala, Islamabad.
The closure of the border crossings was ordered by Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa on Feb 16, hours after militants struck Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine in Sehwan, killing 90.
All traffic between the two countries has remained suspended since then, creating logistical difficulties for landlocked Afghanistan, which conducts most of its external trade through Pakistan.
A large number of Afghan nationals have also been stranded in Pakistan by the decision.
Pakistan has frequently used border closure to express its annoyance with Afghanistan on different issues.
This time, the military closed the crossings to pressurise Kabul to take action against terror outfits that it accuses of taking up sanctuary on Afghan soil and directing attacks from there.