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With embassies closed, black market for visas thriving in Afghanistan

“The real price for a Tajikistan visa is $60, but in the black market it is around $350 to $400. The real price for Turkey’s visa is $120, but in the black market it is selling for up to $5,000. There are secrets that we do not know, and only the firsthand dealers know how to obtain them,”

IANS | New Delhi |

With the number of people demanding visas increasing in Afghanistan following the closure of foreign embassies in Kabul after the collapse of the former Afghan government, the black market business for visas is skyrocketing in the war-torn country.

A number of travel agencies say that currently only Pakistan visas can be obtained legally, but visas of a number of other countries are being sold in the black market at high prices, Tolo News reported.

Shafi Samim, the director of a travel agency in Kabul, told Tolo News that people are buying visas from the black market at double or triple the regular prices.

According to Samim, people are buying visas from Pakistan for up to $350, Tajikistan for $400, Uzbekistan for $1,350, and Turkey for up to $5,000.

Before the collapse of the previous government, however, a Pakistan visa cost around $15, India’s was $20, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan’s cost $60 each and for Turkey’s it was $120.

“The real price for a Tajikistan visa is $60, but in the black market it is around $350 to $400. The real price for Turkey’s visa is $120, but in the black market it is selling for up to $5,000. There are secrets that we do not know, and only the firsthand dealers know how to obtain them,” Samim said, the report added.

A number of travel agency officials have urged foreign countries to reopen their embassies in Kabul in order to issue visas to Afghan people.

Mohmmad Haroon, a Kabul resident, said he has a Pakistan visa but he cannot cross at the Torkham gate. According to Haroon, in order to cross the border into Pakistan, in addition to a visa, one needs a ‘gate pass’, which some people near the Pakistan embassy are selling, the report said.

“People have been waiting here for long. They have visas but cannot pass via the Torkham gate. They (sellers) have created a black market and are selling the gate pass for $200 to $300,” Haroon said.