IOM Pakistan: Assessment of Incoming Afghan Nationals (Torkham Border), June 2017

from International Organization for Migration
Published on 29 Jun 2017


The international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan spans 2,430 km (1,510 miles). On the Pakistan side, the border touches the provinces/regions of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Balochistan. Throughout its history, the border has remained very porous, as populations in both countries share historical and cultural heritage, with cross-border movements taking place on a regular basis.

There are multiple official border crossing points between the two countries; however, the most frequented are Torkham in KP/FATA and Chaman/Spin Boldak in Balochistan.

Starting June 2016, the Pakistani government introduced specific border controls at Torkham border, requiring all incoming Afghans to have valid visas/ passports or Rahdari (applicable to local tribes enabling limited movement on respective sides of the border).

According to available estimates, prior to the restriction of free movement, over 20,000 Afghans and Pakistanis would cross back and forth between the two countries on a daily basis through Torkham. However, after implementation of border control, this has reduced to 2000—2500 Afghans per day. In contrast, Chaman border crossing remains flexible, and free movement from both countries is ongoing. According to available figures, approximately 25,000-30,000 people utilize the Chaman border from both sides on a daily basis.

During 2016, an unprecedented number of Afghans returned to Afghanistan from Pakistan, which included over 250,000 undocumented, and over 380,000 registered refugees, through the Torkham and Chaman border crossings.

This year, as of June 20th, over 100,000 Afghans have returned to their home country, which includes almost 70,000 undocumented returnees from Pakistan.


To get a snapshot of population movements from Afghanistan into Pakistan, OCHA and IOM Pakistan undertook an assessment of Afghan nationals travelling from Afghanistan into Pakistan from 18 - 21 April, 2017 at the Torkham border crossing in FATA/KP.

Key features of this exercise include:

  • Seven (7) staff members, including females and males, carried out 352 interviews with Afghan Individuals entering into Pakistan; information for a total of 794 travelling individuals was collected.

  • Of the 352 family representatives that were interviewed, almost 70% were male, and around 30% were female (note: the gender breakdown for respondents does not represent head of households)

  • Almost 60% of the male respondents were the head of the family, and of the female respondents, only 11% were the head of their households.

  • Basic information was also collected regarding 2,028 family members that were not travelling, and were in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

  • Statistics regarding vulnerable household members, including those with physical and mental disability, chronically ill, single unsupported parents, pregnant women, unaccompanied minors and the elderly were also collected.

The purpose of the survey was to get information on the drivers that prompted movement from Afghanistan into Pakistan and associated logistics, especially visa requirements, processing times and financial costs.

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