Pakistan’s prime minister expressed deep grief and sorrow Wednesday over a tragic incident in Afghanistan’s eastern city of Jalalabad in which at least 11 women were killed in a stampede.  

“Deeply saddened by the tragic deaths & casualties in a stampede in Jalalabad of Afghans wanting to get Pakistani visas. My condolences go to the victims’ families & prayers for early recovery of the injured,” Imran Khan tweeted.

The incident occurred in an open stadium in Jalalabad where thousands of Afghans had gathered to collect tokens needed to apply for visas to Pakistan.

“We have received with sorrow and grief the news about the loss of precious Afghan lives and injuries in a stampede at a stadium in Jalalabad, several kilometers away from the Consulate General of Pakistan, where applicants for Pakistani visas were being gathered under the arrangements of the provincial Afghan authorities. Our sympathies go out to all those affected by the tragic incident,” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry said earlier in a statement.

The tragedy took place in the wake of Islamabad’s new visa policy for Afghanistan.

On Sept. 29, Pakistan’s Federal Cabinet approved a new visa policy for Afghanistan to issue multiple entry visit visas to facilitate the movement of Afghan traders and citizens.

On Oct. 12, the Pakistani embassy in Kabul issued over 2,000 visas in a single day.

“The Embassy of Pakistan in Kabul and the sub-missions in Jalalabad, Kandahar, Herat and Mazar-e-Sharif are now issuing multiple entry visas to Afghan applicants intending to visit Pakistan for family, business, medical treatment, education and other purposes,” the ministry said.

“While the Embassy of Pakistan and the sub-missions in Afghanistan are committed to implementing this new visa policy and to extend maximum facilitation to the visa applicants, we would request the understanding and cooperation of the Afghan people as well as the Afghan authorities to ensure better and secure management of the visa applicants,” the statement added.

Pakistan’s new visa policy is part of Islamabad’s move to improve its relations with its western neighbor following its globally appreciated role in the Afghan peace process to end the nearly two-decade-long war in Afghanistan.

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