At least 15 people were killed in a stampede among thousands of Afghans gathered outside Pakistan’s consulate on Tuesday as jostling broke out between people applying for visas, officials in the eastern city of Jalalabad said.

An estimated 3,000 Afghans had congregated on the open ground outside the consulate, waiting to collect tokens needed to apply for a visa, two provincial officials told Reuters a day after the tragedy.

The people had gathered to secure a permit after Pakistan introduced a new visa policy for Afghanistan to facilitate business and people-to-people contacts between the two countries. According to officials, the travel document, approved by the cabinet, will make it easy for Afghan citizens to acquire multiple entry visit visas, including those for long-term business, as well as investment and student visas.


Sohrab Qaderi, a provincial council member in eastern Jalalabad city, where the incident occurred said of the 15 people dead, 11 were women and several senior citizens were wounded.

“The visa applicants jostled to secure their token from the consulate officials […] the crowd got out of control, leading to a stampede,” said an official in Jalalabad said.

Tens of thousands of Afghans every year travel to neighbouring Pakistan to secure medical treatment, education and jobs. The two countries share a nearly 2,600-kilometre border.

Pakistan hosts about 3 million Afghan refugees and economic migrants, who have fled violence, religious persecution and poverty in their war-torn country.

Officials in the Pakistan embassy in Kabul were not immediately available for comment.