Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to create mechanism to resolve border issues

Published: June 20, 2016
Delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai to also discuss other matters pertaining to border management. PHOTO: INP

Delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai to also discuss other matters pertaining to border management. PHOTO: INP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani and Afghan delegations met in Islamabad on Monday to discuss border management and last week’s skirmishes at Torkham, said a statement of Foreign Office.

The delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, visited Islamabad on the invitation of Prime Minister’s foreign policy adviser Sartaj Aziz to discuss a nearly week-long standoff at the border.

The Pakistan side was represented by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.

Torkham – the busiest border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan in Khyber Agency – reopened Saturday morning after it was closed for six days following deadly clashes between the border guards of the two militancy-plagued neighbours.

The fighting was triggered on June 12 by an Afghan security forces attempt to disrupt the construction of a gate well within the Pakistani territory.

Pakistan unlikely to budge on new border rules

Both sides later declared ceasefire and the border was opened on Saturday. However, troops and tanks have been deployed by both sides.

The talks were held in a cordial atmosphere marked by a mutual desire to amicably resolve border related issues. Both sides decided to work in the spirit of good neighbourly relations and cooperation between the two countries.

The two sides agreed to share their ideas with the leadership, as these will be discussed during a meeting between the Sartaj Aziz and Afghan Foreign Minister on the sidelines of the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Tashkent from June 23-24, 2016.

The need for creating a suitable mechanism for consultation on border management issues for also emphasised during the meeting.

The participants agreed on effective border management being vital for promoting peace, countering terrorism and strengthening relations between the two countries.

Afghan Deputy Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai also paid a courtesy call on Sartaj Aziz.

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Pakistan has started introducing a new border mechanism at the Torkham border from June 1. Under the new border controls, Pakistan has made it clear that no one would be allowed to cross the border without a valid passport and a visa.

Official sources say Pakistan will stick to its position with regard to the new border rules.

Sartaj Aziz has already spelt out Islamabad’s stance in a policy statement in which he said the new border rules had been introduced as part of the government’s counterterrorism strategy to check infiltration of terrorists from Afghanistan.

Pakistan, Afghanistan agree on ceasefire at Torkham border

He reiterated in a BBC interview on Sunday that the gate would be built at all costs. “Pakistan is neither violating any bilateral agreement with Afghanistan nor any international law,” he said and warned that Pakistan would retaliate if attacked again.

Aziz said the issue of terrorism and smuggling could not be tackled until some sort of border management system was put in place at the Pak-Afghan border. Almost 50,000 people cross the Torkham border without questioning. “These travellers include all types of people. We told Afghanistan in May that from June 1, no one will be allowed to cross the border without valid travel documents,” he added.

Aziz said Afghanistan wanted Pakistan to stop construction of the Torkham gate. “However, we are building the gate on our side of the border, and we do not need anyone’s permission.” After its completion, the gate, which, he said, was being built 30-35 metres inside Pakistan’s territory, would be opened for traffic.

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Reader Comments (10)

  • Afghan
    Jun 20, 2016 - 3:11PM

    Which bilateral Mr. Aziz talks about. No bilateral agreement on these issues, only that of 1893 which has been expired years ago and that is why not acceptable to Afghanistan any unilateral movement on the issue. Recommend

  • Arshad
    Jun 20, 2016 - 3:50PM

    This is a welcome development that two wholly independent countries Afghanistan & Pakistan are taking their matter of border into their own hands. Other countries especially India should not be allowed to interfere in this solely bilateral matter. Both Afghanistan and Pakistan should be fully aware of the nefarious intentions of anti Muslim tendencies of India egged on by super power like US.Recommend

  • Khan
    Jun 20, 2016 - 8:44PM

    @Afghan You can think what you like, we don’t need your permission for anythingRecommend

    Jun 20, 2016 - 8:57PM

    We have always emphasized the importance of good relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. It is simply important for both nations to work through any issues and form a healthy working relationship for the stability of the region. Like State Department Spokesperson, John Kirby, said few days ago: “Good relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are key to stability in the region.”
    State Department spokesman John Kirby also addressed the recent clashes at the border: “We are obviously very concerned (and) want both sides to ratchet down the violence and begin a dialogue to try to reduce the tensions, keep the crossing open, and have it done peaceably. This isn’t the first time that we have seen clashes even at that crossing, and they have been able to work through it in the past and we are absolutely confident that, with moral courage on both sides, they can continue to work through it.”
    It is a good see both sides meeting to discuss the issues that are causing problems at the border. We remain fully optimistic and hopeful of positive outcome. It remains our wish to see peace and stability prevail throughout the region. In fact, Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan General John Nicholson also met with General Raheel Sharif at GHQ in Rawalpindi last week. “During the meeting, regional security issues and matters of mutual interest including border management mechanism along Pak-Afghanistan border were discussed in the meeting.”

    Ali Khan
    Digital Engagement Team, USCENTCOMRecommend

  • sikander
    Jun 20, 2016 - 9:00PM

    @Afghan: brother, isn’t it enough that Afghans have suffered for centuries & being pulverized in recent decades that now you want to turn on the only country that is virtually family across the borders? Recommend

  • Pakistani
    Jun 20, 2016 - 10:30PM

    No need for talks with these Afghanis. Just fence the whole border. Let them say whatever they want. If they fire at us again, then retaliate so severly that even a single Afghan soldier is not left standing at the border!Recommend

  • Ahmad Durrani
    Jun 21, 2016 - 12:13AM

    Pakistan does not even have a Foreign Minister or a Minsister of State for Foreign Affairs and our policy is adrift. Hypochondriac Nawaz Sharif is putting a show about his open heart surgery when he had a small medical procedure. Pakistan must fence Afghan border and admit people who have passports and valid visa.Recommend

  • Ahmad Durrani
    Jun 21, 2016 - 12:15AM

    @US CENTCOM: When USA is fencing its border with Mexico it must also help Pakistan fence the border with Afghanistan. Stop blaming Pakistan for militants crossing the border when we have open border.Recommend

  • Concerned
    Jun 21, 2016 - 4:30AM

    This isn’t some bank agreement where the account is cancelled and all is resolved. We are talking about people’s lives, the locals. You are practically talking about the mandate and decision taken by the locals not wanting to join Afhganistan. It will be occupation on your part and difficulty on their part. Havnt we suffered enough by the history of Afghanistan. Let the locals and us live our lives in peace in Pakistan. thank youRecommend

  • Waqas
    Jun 21, 2016 - 5:08AM

    @Afghan Pakistan has not signed any bilateral agreement with Afghanistan in 1893, What are you talking about?Recommend

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