Torkham gate issue: Second round of Pak-Afghan flag meeting ends in vain

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TORKHAM (/APP) – Second round of talks between Pakistan and Afghanistan authorities to ease border tension over construction of a gate has ended in vain, reported Friday.

Pakistan maintained in the flag meeting that cross border movement would be resumed once the gate is constructed, opposing Afghanistan’s stance demanding to open the border first.

Neither of the two neighbours is willing to back down in the argument.

United States has expressed concerns over the Torkham tension between Afghanistan and Pakistan. State Department’s spokesman John Kirby confirmed that United States was not playing role of a mediator in Pakistan-Afghanistan border issue.

Defense Minister Khawaja Asif has said that the country would not back down from its stance over border management as it is a matter involving national security.

On the other hand, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs and National Security, Sartaj Aziz observed that more gates would be built at Torkham border to end terrorists’ entrance in Pakistan.

Aziz said that it was announced earlier that authorities would implement the revised border laws starting from June 1 under which none possessing incomplete documents would be permitted in Pakistan.

He said that regulating the border management and movement at Pakistan border was not a violation of bilateral agreement and the international law.

Giving a policy statement on Pak-Afghan border situation in the National Assembly on Thursday, he said that Pakistan was constructing a gate under zero line at its side some 31 meter away from border aimed at regulating and documenting the movement of vehicles and people.

He said that Pakistan had already informed the Afghan government two months ago about the construction of the gate and border management.

On June 12, the Afghan security forces started unprovoked firing on Pakistani forces at Torkham border crossing with a view to disrupt the construction of facilities including a gate being established by Pakistan well inside its territory, he said.

Eleven Pakistanis including two soldiers and nine civilians got injured in that firing, he added.

He said on June 14, one of the officers of Pakistan Army Major Ali Jawad Khan who had been injured in the firing, embraced martyrdom.

The adviser said that Pakistani forces had forcefully retaliated and on June 13, the country had strongly protested with Afghanistan on that issue, as a result, the border crossing was closed for movement of people as well as vehicular traffic.

Sartaj Aziz said that the Afghan government lodged a protest with our Ambassador in Kabul contending that the construction work being carried out by Pakistani side was a violation of agreements and understandings.

He said that Pakistan believe that effective border management was key for enhancing security of both the countries by checking the infiltration of terrorists and militants across the around 2,500 km long Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

Aziz said that measure was also vital for Pakistan’s efforts to combat terrorism and it required regulating the movement of people across the border by having proper documentation for crossing the border.

The government was working on a plan to achieve that objective all along Afghanistan-Pakistan border, he said.

He said that around 180 families were dislocated and had to be moved to safer places due to the firing along the border.

“We would like to reiterate that effective border management is vital for enhancing the security of both Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he added.

The adviser said that he invited National Security Adviser of Afghanistan and the Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani to visit Pakistan to discuss these matters and to remove any gaps in communication, or understanding.

Aziz told the House that Rabbani appreciated the invitation and said that he would get back to him on the subject as early as possible.

The adviser to PM further said that Pakistan wanted to further strengthen its brotherly relations with Afghanistan.

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