Pakistani nationals have been asked to produce their passport and visa while entering Pakistan at the Torkham border. A notice, signed by Commandant Khyber Rifles and Assistant Political Agent (APA) Landi Kotal, was pasted in the public spaces in Landi Kotal and Torkham declaring that after January 31, 2017 no one would be allowed to cross the border without legal documentation. Those found guilty of violating the law would face serious consequences.

There are a number of things that need to be understood in this case. For the longest time, the border had been open for truckers and merchants on either side without documentation. However, the situation that Pakistan is dealing with at the moment is grave. The no-scrutiny-policy was allowing an influx of terrorists to move freely within the country. And in the last couple of months, we have faced serious consequences. Valid documentation on the pretext of security is not a gimmick of the federal government, as was said by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) General Secretary Mufti Ijaz. We need to be vigilant and close off all easy accesses to the country.

Another grievance of the tribesmen is that the condition of possessing a passport is the economic murder of the tribesmen. Several tribesmen from each side cross the border every day for work. Documentation makes it hard for them to earn enough money for three meals a day. Also, tribesmen have relatives living on the other side of the border and they fear that the implementation of the passport policy will reduce contact with them.

The federal government, while taking such measures, should keep the economic perspective in mind. Alternative sources of income generation should be provided. If the documentation policy was under consideration for over a year, there is no excuse for having made no efforts to understand the situation of the tribesmen and take measures accordingly.

In the case of losing contact with relatives, the tribesmen need to understand the dynamics of how countries work. Borders are necessary for required protection. Proper documentation is required for anyone to be a part of the system. They demand fair and equal treatment by the government and at the same time refuse to be a part of the system at large. They cannot always have a win-win situation. In order to have their interests articulated in a better manner, merger with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) is the solution.