Pak-Afghan officials meet to defuse border tension

Islamabad, Jun 20: After deadly clashes over the construction of a border gate, Pakistan and Afghanistan today agreed to find an amicable solution to create a mechanism for consulting each other on border issues to avoid such incidents.

A six-member Afghan delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai visited Islamabad to hold discussions with Pakistani officials on the recent clashes over the construction of a security gate by Pakistan at Torkham border crossing and other matters pertaining to border management.


The Pakistan delegation was led by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry. "Talks between the two delegations were held in a cordial atmosphere marked by a mutual desire to amicably resolve border related issues," the foreign office said in a statement.

Both sides decided to work in the "spirit of good neighbourly relations and friendly cooperation". The two sides agreed that the ideas generated in the deliberations will be shared with the leadership and further discussed and refined during a meeting Prime Minister's Advisor on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani on the sidelines of the forthcoming SCO Summit in Tashkent on June 23-24.

During the discussions, it was emphasised that there was a need for creating a suitable mechanism for consultation on border management issues, the foreign office said. "Effective border management is vital for promoting peace, countering terrorism and strengthening relations between the two countries," it said.


The Afghan delegation also called on Aziz, who last week had held talks with Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar to defuse border tensions. The tensions started last weekend when the two sides clashed over the security structures being built by Pakistan to stop illegal border movement.

Pakistan on Friday re-opened its Torkham border crossing with Afghanistan after closing it for about six days due to tension over construction of the gate. The border crossing in the northwest was closed due to clashes between the two sides which killed a Pakistan army Major and an Afghan border guard.

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Torkham is one of the busiest of the eight established crossing points on the 2,500-kilometre-long porous border between the two countries, which is used by some 25,000 travellers every day. Pakistan has already announced that no one will be allowed to enter through Torkham without valid documents from June 1.

Pakistan has also announced that security gates will be constructed at eight recognised entry points from Afghanistan and patrolling of about 2,400-km long border will be increased to check illegal crossings. Afghanistan does not recognise the present boundary, which is also known as Durand Line, as an international border and it opposes permanent structure.


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