Confirmation of a 12 people group from our Japanese Tour Operator for Afghanistan Tour encouraged us to travel again to Afghanistan to confirm what services are available and improvements are made since the tour by Yousaf and Waseem when they had to stay at a tea house in Bamiyan.
For this time it was decided that I will travel with Yousaf to Bamiyan and then to Band e Ameer depending on the clearance of mines on the road. We applied for an Afghan visa in Islamabad and got our passports back in 2 days. At that time it was easy to get visas as there were very few people applying for it. In the meantime, Yousaf was searching for news on Afghanistan on different websites and channels.
He got in contact with an American Tourist “Tim” who was also trying to get into Afghanistan for a visit. We traveled to Peshawar and met him there, He was a short guy in Shalwar Kameez with a Chitrali cap, and looked like a Pashtun, but his English accent was very American. We spent the night in Peshawar and left early for Torkham, we were asked for Passport, visa, and NIC at Takht e Baig and Jamrod (Khyber gate). We arrived at Torkham around 0730 where daily activities had started with all the chaos possible. Countless people were going and coming through the gates on both sides.
Torkham, the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is the major border crossing between the two countries. The other at Chamman is close to Quetta and Gawadar. Since Afghanistan is a landlocked country, and so are the Central Asian States, Pakistan allows the imports and exports for and from Afghanistan mainly through Torkham. Shipments are brought to Karachi port from where they are sent to Jalalabad and Kabul by road. These goods imported on the name of Afghan transit trade are returned to Pakistan through different land crossings along the Pak-Afghan porous border. In recent years Pak Army has built posts and fence along about 2700 km of the border to control illegal crossing and smuggling
Torkham — Khyber pass as commonly known — is the gateway in real terms to Indo-Subcontinent has witnessed several Merchants on the crossroads of invading armies of Bactrian Greeks, Afghan worriers, Mughals, Explorers like Ibn e Batuta and Huang Tsuang.
Alexander, however, was uncomfortable with the narrowness of the pass and thus opted for Bajaur area further North and entered Swat Valley where he confronted the local worriers at Barikot and made his way through to the Indus at Hund and continued his march to River Jhelum through Taxila, to meet with the strong army of Raja Porous
After the fall of the Taliban, Pakistan’s FWO started construction of Torkham – Jalalabad section and a Chinese company to build Jalalabad – Kabul portion with the aid of EU countries. It took both of them 3/4 years. Till then we had to travel on dirt roads from Torkham to Kabul by non-air-conditioned cars and usually, it was hard to recognize yourself in front of a mirror due to the thick dust cover.
Blog by: Amir Khalid