Kohat tunnel closed to foreign travellers
PESHAWAR/KOHAT, Aug 17: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has banned travel of foreigners from Peshawar to southern districts of the province and tribal and semi-tribal regions through Kohat tunnel. Besides, security at the tunnel has been beefed up and all those intending to travel through it must carry their computerised national identity cards.
The standard operating procedure (SOP) in this regard was announced by Home and Tribal Affairs Department, Peshawar, on Friday. It stated that travel of foreigners from Peshawar to Kohat, Hangu, Karak and Bannu districts, and North and South Waziristan agencies through Kohat tunnel had been banned, as for this they would have to pass through the restive Darra Adamkhel, a Frontier Region (FR) of Kohat district, and onwards through Kohat tunnel.
Similar restriction is also meant for all those Pakistani staff members working with any international or local NGO. The restraint is also applicable in case of other remaining five FRs i.e FR Peshawar, FR Bannu, FR Lakki, FR Tank and FR Dera Ismail Khan as well as the seven tribal agencies, including Bajaur, Mohmand, Khyber, Orakzai, Kurram, North Waziristan and South Waziristan.
However, the people will have to obtain prior permission from the Home and Tribal Affairs Department so that necessary NOC
and proper security arrangements could be made for them well in advance. Ban on travel through Kohat tunnel is in addition to the restriction already imposed for 10 districts for visiting foreign tourists, diplomats, foreign missions, expatriates and Pakistani staff members working in NGOs and INGOs with regard to entire seven districts forming Malakand Division, including Swat, Lower Dir, Upper Dir, Shangla, Buner, Malakand and Chitral and three southern districts of Hangu, Tank and Dera Ismail Khan.
The home department advisory clarified that all ambassadors/foreign missions/diplomats/embassies’ officials intending to visit the aforementioned specific areas were advised to route their written requests through the federal ministry of foreign affairs, Islamabad, so that it should reach the provincial government’s home department, Peshawar, a fortnight or at least 12 working days in advance, enabling it to process it and obtain security clearance from the quarters concerned and to make proper security/ protocol arrangements for the visiting foreigners/dignitaries.
The government has asked the foreigners/expatriates and Pakistani staff working for NGOs/INGOs to route their written requests for visiting the abovementioned areas through their respective organisations.
For visiting the rest of the districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, all categories of foreigners might forward their written requests to the home and tribal affairs department, Peshawar, at least five working days prior to their visits so that proper arrangements could be made for their visit.
Meanwhile, to thwart any threat to strategic Kohat Friendship Tunnel two extra army units and sniffer dogs have been deployed there, turning it into a nuisance for a large number of people proceeding to their hometowns for celebrating Eid, sources told Dawn in Kohat on Friday.
The National Highway Authority and security forces have also renewed their request to people to keep their identity cards and papers of vehicles with them for easy passage through the tunnel. The security forces have forbidden travel through the tunnel for those people who did not possess CNIC.
The sources said that this time the authorities had also not opened the hilly track between Darra Adamkhel and Kohat to ease traffic at the tunnel. They said that the villages close to the hilly track on Darra Adamkhel side were still infested with militants, who could cause harm to passengers.