Pakistan, Afghanistan Make Efforts to End Border Clashes

Pakistan, Afghanistan-Pakistan and Afghanistan have made diplomatic, political and military contacts to try to de-escalate days of deadly border skirmishes, although officials said the situation was relatively calm on Wednesday.

AfghanAirForce1                                                                                                Photo:David Votroubek, MC1/Wikipedia.

The clashes across the busy Torkham crossing erupted last Sunday and officials have since confirmed the killing of four soldiers on both sides while more than 40 people, including civilians, were wounded.

Pakistan army spokesman, Lt-General Asim Bajwa, said Wednesday his country wants an early end to the violence, and both sides are moving in that direction.

“The engagement [between the two countries] is taking place at [the] political, diplomatic and military-to-military level to try to bring an end to the violence as soon as possible,” he told a news conference in Rawalpindi where the Pakistan military is headquartered. He added the issue will get resolved but would not say how soon.

On Wednesday, the Afghan parliament also called for resolving the conflict with Pakistan through diplomatic and political means.

The most frequented Torkham crossing has remained closed since the conflict began, stranding thousands of travelers on both sides and halting trade conveys.
Placing blame

Afghanistan and Pakistan blame each other for starting the skirmishes.

Bajwa reiterated Afghan forces began “unprovoked” firing late last Sunday to disrupt construction of a gate by Pakistan at the Torkham crossing. He dismissed allegations the gate is located in the disputed territory and insisted the new facility being built 37-meters inside Pakistani territory would help prevent terrorist and other illegal movements on either side.

“This border management system is going to benefit Afghans equally well. This is good for both the countries. This will check all kind of movement on either side of the border, so this blame game will eventually end. I think this is going to help all of us and we should get there,” he told a news conference in Rawalpindi, where the military is headquartered.

Bajwa went on to say that Pakistan plans to construct similar structures at all the eight established border crossings with Afghanistan to address mutual allegations and concerns that militants involved in subversive activities in both countries freely move across the nearly 2,600-kilometer-long so-called Durand Line.

He said that militant incursions from across the Torkham crossing led to some of the deadliest terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent years.
The Afghan government, which denounced the construction of the gate, has defended military retaliation, saying no new facility could be erected at the border without mutual consent.

The objection stems from historic Afghan disagreement with a frontier that was drawn by former British rulers of the Indian subcontinent.

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