Chaman protest against Pakistan’s mandatory passport policy along the Durand line continues

Protestors At Chaman Protest (Photo: Social Media)

Protests in Pakistan have become a common practice because of the negligent establishment which is habitual of ignoring the causes of common people. In a series of these protests, a huge Chaman protest is ongoing for past three months, and as expected, no constructive and solution-oriented approach has been taken by Pakistani establishment. On the contrary, it has used its coercive power to make the protest go unreported. Its pitiful that a peaceful protest that is happening for so long and relates to a densely populated community has been kept alienated.

Notably, Chaman is one of the busiest and most popular border crossing routes at the Durand line, which is used by the Pashtuns to enter Afghanistan for trade and meet their relatives. Instead of facilitating them and crafting a more people-oriented policy, Pakistan abruptly suspended the long-established norms and made the passport mandatory.

Long established Tazkira provision suspended

For years traders and other people with relatives across the border have travelled to either side of the border. The presence of a community on both sides of the border makes the issue complicated. Earlier, Pakistan had employed a provision of issuing daily slips called Tazkira, as a permission to cross the border with a condition of an evening return. Along with Tazkira, Pashtun-Afghans had to show their national identity card.

But in October, Pakistan announced that this provision of Tazkira would be suspended and a new “one document regime” would be enforced from 1 November. This enraged the masses and hence on October 23, a large number of protestors with a count of more than 35, 000 started Chaman protest.

They are demanding that the erstwhile Tazkira rule should be reinstated, and that the compulsion of passport should be ended with immediate effect. However, Pakistan has completely ignored these demands.

Reason behind Pakistan’s ignorance of Chaman protest

Actually, Pakistan always thought that the Taliban regime, once comes to power, would be friendly and would allow Pakistan to change the long-contended Durand line as per its own wish. It also thought that the terrorist which are instrumental to its policies would get a refuge in Afghanistan but under its control. But things changed dramatically, the Afghan Taliban posed a solid diplomatic confrontation to Pakistan on the issue of Durand line. Similarly, TTP also came openly against the Pakistan Army unexpectedly which also became the bone of contention between the terrorist Taliban regime in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Pakistan has for long blamed Taliban for providing safe haven to the TTP.

This friction escalated to the zenith during the Chitral clashes where TTP occupied various villages in territories controlled by Pakistan. In the aforesaid conflict, Pakistan Army faced a humiliating damage at the hands of terrorists which prompted Pakistan to deploy air support. After the clashes, the frustrated Pakistan Army commanded every institution to act against Afghans, which resembled first in the forced repatriation of Afghan refuges residing in Pakistan.

In the same pursuit, Tazkira was also suspended, and passport was made mandatory. It is unfortunate that Pakistan has always employed illicit tactics as a policy and when it backfired, it forced the people to bear the consequences.  Instead of correcting its own policies and taking peaceful recourse, Pakistan has chosen to punish their own population.

So, Chaman protest is a testament to the fact that Pakistan has not only failed at policy level but also its people.

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