- Afghanistan says willing to resolve border related issues with Pakistan amicably
- Travel only be allowed through officially-designated crossing points after extension of project to entire 2,400-kilometre-long border
Pakistan has completed construction of a massive trench in Balochistan alongside its porous border with Afghanistan to keep separatists, smugglers and militants from sneaking into the country, as an Afghan delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, headed into talks with Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry on issues relating to the Torkham crossing and border management on Monday.
The strategic project of 1,100-kilometre-long trench was initiated along Pak-Afghan border in Balochistan at a cost of Rs14 billion by the Frontier Corps in 2013.
“Excavation work on the trench on Chaman-Kandhar border has been completed,” Deputy Commissioner Chaman Khuda-e-Dad Aga told media.
The 11-foot-deep and 14-foot-wide ditch on the entire stretch of the border is contributing in efforts by the security forces to have a proper border management, an official of the provincial Home Department said.
PROJECT TO BE EXTENDED TO ENTIRE BORDER IN NEXT PHASE:
In the next phase, the project will be extended to the entire over 2,400-kilometre-long border and after its completion, travel between the two countries will only be allowed through officially-designated crossing points.
The FC, at the beginning of the project, had maintained that the trench would “not only help in effectively controlling the movement of drugs, arms and ammunition, smugglers but will also help stop intrusion of terrorists and illegal immigrants”.
“Proper management on all of our international borders is an essential need for a peaceful Pakistan,” Balochistan government’s spokesperson Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar said. “In accordance with our laws, we are making our efforts to discipline cross-border travelling with Afghanistan and other countries,” he said.
Kakar went on to say, “No one has the right of objection if Pakistan is enforcing a proper management on its border regions.” The spokesperson was of the view that the proper border management on the Pakistani borders was also in the interests of the neighbouring countries.
“The border management will contribute to strengthening our system to check intrusion of Indian-sponsored Baloch insurgents and Indian spies in Balochistan,” he added.
“It is an undeniable fact that a loose control on the porous borders in the past had allowed several hundred illegal immigrants to enter Balochistan and now same elements are threatening the law and order situation in the province,” Kakar said.
Commenting on the construction of the ditch last year, former ambassador to Afghanistan Rustam Shah Mohmand had said the project might have blessings of the United States.
In November 2012, a senior diplomat said the US recognised the Durand Line as an international border. “If the government in Kabul has other interpretation, that’s certainly their business,” Richard E Hoagland, US deputy chief of mission in Pakistan, had said at a media discussion.
Pakistan for the first time announced in 2005 that it had plans to build a 2,400-kilometre fence along its border with Afghanistan to check armed militants and drug smugglers slipping between the two countries.
AFGHAN DELEGATION DISCUSSES TORKHAM CROSSING, BORDER MANAGEMENT:
Meanwhile, an Afghan delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai, visited Islamabad on Monday for discussion on issues relating to the Torkham crossing and border management. The Pakistan delegation was led by Foreign Secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry.
The Afghan delegation arrived in Islamabad following a telephone conversation between Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar on June 15, Wednesday, to address the situation arising from recent events at the Torkham crossing and to find a way forward on efforts for border management.
Monday’s talks between the two delegations 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 friendly cooperation.
The two sides agreed that the ideas generated in the deliberations would be shared with the leadership and further discussed and refined during a meeting between the PM’s adviser and the Afghan foreign minister on the sidelines of the forthcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization (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. Effective border management is 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.
Afghanistan and Pakistan last week traded deadly heavy gunfire and artillery at the Torkham border crossing after Pakistan started building a gate on its side to check for unwanted and illegal movement.
Pakistan reopened the border crossing on Saturday, after the clashes stopped, allowing thousands of stranded to cross. Thousands of vehicles normally pass through the crossing every week, making it a vital trade link between the countries. As part of the agreement, officials said all Afghans would need official documents to pass into Pakistan.