Pakistan closes border crossings ahead of Afghan polls

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Islamabad, Oct 19 (IANS) Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said on Friday that the country has temporarily closed its major border points with Afghanistan on a request by the neighbouring country for the security of its parliamentary elections to be held on Saturday.

The Taliban has vowed to “severely disrupt” the polls, in which some 2,500 candidates are running for 249 seats in the Afghan Parliament. Ten of those candidates have been killed in pre-election violence, along with more than 100 other Afghans.

The militant group on Thursday killed Kandahar’s provincial police chief and intelligence chief in a deadly attack aimed at a meeting of senior US military and Afghan leaders in the city. The strike led the government to delay the elections in Kandahar by one week.

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The Pakistani ministry said in a statement that “on a request by the government of Afghanistan it has been decided to keep the friendship gates on Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing points at Chaman and Torkham closed on October 19 and 20”.

“The decision has been taken to support Afghanistan in smooth conduct of upcoming Parliamentary elections in the country,” it said.

Both the crossing points will remain closed for all kinds of traffic except emergency cases.

Meanwhile, the UN refugee agency has also suspended its repatriation process of the Afghan refugees.

The Afghan refugees were informed not to approach UNHCR Encashment Centres in Afghanistan on Saturday. The centres will resume normal operation on Sunday.

–IANS

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