KABUL: At least 12 elderly Afghan women were killed and more than a dozen men and women were injured in a stampede on Wednesday at a stadium where thousands had gathered to receive tokens for Pakistani visas, an official said.
The stampede took place in Jalalabad, the provincial capital of eastern Nangarhar near the border with Pakistan, said Attaullah Khogyani, the spokesperson for the governor of Nangahar. Many of those injured were women, he said.
People had gathered at the stadium to collect tokens that would be used to apply for visas to Pakistan.
“There were many thousands of people and due to the rush, this tragic incident happened,” the spokesperson added.
Pakistan’s Embassy in Kabul expressed “deep grief” over the deaths and injuries in Jalalabad.
“[It was] five (5) Km away from Pakistan Consulate in Jalalabad, where applicants for Pakistani visa were being gathered and organized by the provincial Afghan authorities,” the embassy said in a statement. “We sympathize with the families of those who have lost their lives and those who have been injured in this unfortunate incident.”
In view of “brotherly relations” between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the Pakistan Embassy in Kabul and the consulates in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif will continue to issue multiple entry visas to Afghan applicants for visits to Pakistan for reasons of family, business, medical treatment, education and other purposes, the statement said, adding:
“We seek the understanding and cooperation of Afghan people and authorities for better and secure management of the Afghan visa applicants.”
Pakistan’s consulates and embassy in Afghanistan were closed for over seven months due to the coronavirus pandemic but consular services resumed around ten days ago.
Last month, Pakistan approved a new visa policy for Afghan citizens, including students and businessmen, as well as a new health visa.
“Cabinet has approved new Visa Policy for Afghan citizens,” prime minister Imran Khan’s special representative for Afghanistan, Mohammad Sadiq, had said in a tweet. “Acquiring visas will be easy for Afghan visitors with multiple entry visit visas and long-term business, investment and student visas. A new category of health visa is also introduced which will be issued on border.”