ISLAMABAD: Afghan Chief Executive Dr Abdullah Abdullah on Monday said Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to observe a ceasefire along the Torkham border and solve the dispute through diplomatic means.
“We have agreed on a ceasefire with Pakistan and hope this problem will be resolved through diplomatic efforts,” Tolo TV quoted Dr Abdullah as telling Afghan council of ministers.
He confirmed that one border soldier was killed and six others wounded in clashes against Pakistan last night, adding that Pakistan also incurred casualties.
“Pakistan wanted to build new installations and Afghan Border Forces didn’t allow it. In response, Pakistan opened fire on Afghan Forces,” Abdullah said.
The Afghan chief executive said Kabul had taken up the matter through diplomatic channels but “Pakistan didn’t act upon the mutual agreement reached between both countries.”
Pakistan and Afghan forces exchanged fire late Sunday over construction on the Pakistani side of the border.
Officials in Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province have confirmed that a border police official was killed and six others injured during the two-hour long skirmishes with Pakistani security forces late Monday. According to Pakistan Army, one soldier was injured when Afghan forces fired shells at the border posts.
Local officials in Khyber Agency said several civilians were among those injured who were admitted to Landikotal hospital.
A Pakistan Army statement said late Sunday that the Afghan forces started firing after Pakistan started construction of a gate on its own side of the border as a “necessity to check unwanted and illegal movement of terrorists through Torkham.”
“Pakistani security forces responded to the Afghan firing effectively,” the statement from the Inter-Service Public Relations said.
Torkham is the most frequently used crossing point at Pak-Afghan; most of the terrorists have been found using this gate for entry, the statement said.
The firing incident occurred days after Pakistan introduced a new mechanism along the border that requires every Afghan to carry travel documents for entering Pakistan.
Prior to this thousands of Afghans living near the border would cross into Pakistan without passports and visas.
Pakistan says the new system was put in place to curb unregulated and illegal cross-border movement of the militants who would take advantage of the loose border monitoring system.
Pakistani soldiers opened fire on our forces, claims Afghan foreign ministry
Meanwhile, Afghan Foreign Ministry has claimed that Pakistani border soldiers opened fire on Afghan security and defence forces which triggered a cross-fire from the Afghan side.
It, however, said Kabul wants to solve border issues with Islamabad through diplomatic channels.
“In line with the International Standards, discussions on establishment of installations in Torkham were underway between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a series of accords had been reached in this regard,” a statement said.
“However, yesterday evening the Pakistani side, unlike the mentioned accords, embarked to establish installations in Torkham, and Pakistani border soldiers opened fire on Afghan security and defence forces,” it added.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan considers this tension as unpleasant. Afghanistan adheres to its pervious accords with Pakistan and emphasises peaceful methods and expects from Pakistani side to tackle this problem through diplomatic channels,” it said.
Pakistan lodges protest with Afghanistan
Pakistan on Monday lodged a strong protest with Afghanistan over unprovoked firing by the Afghan forces on Torkham border.
“Today, Afghan Charge d’Affaires was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to convey Pakistan’s strong protest over unprovoked firing by the Afghan forces at Pakistani forces on Torkham border crossing,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson said in a statement.
“The Afghan Charge d’Affaires was told that the firing incident was contrary to the spirit of friendly relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” it added.
The statement further revealed that the Afghan side was urged to thoroughly investigate the incident and share the findings with Pakistan. “It was further emphasized that all steps should be taken for avoiding recurrence of such incidents in the future.”
“The firing was aimed at disrupting the construction of a gate well inside Pakistani territory at the border. The gate is being constructed to facilitate the cross-border movement of people and vehicles,” it said.