The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday rejected Afghanistan’s insinuation that the military was conducting “illegal fencing” along the Pakistan-Afghan border, adding that it was being done to address “serious security concerns”.
In a statement. FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the fencing was “fully in accordance with the established norms of international law without encroaching into Afghan territory”.
Afghanistan protests ‘illegal fencing’ on border
On Tuesday, the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said they had protested the move through diplomatic channels.
In a statement carried by Tolo News, the Afghan foreign ministry spokesperson said: “Any action which has been taken by Pakistan, the Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has recorded its protest through the Afghan embassy in Islamabad to Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul.”
The report also quoted the deputy governor of Kunar as saying Pakistan was putting up fencing in a “shifty way” and claimed that residents living in remote areas of Kunar had also complained in phone calls to the media.
Pakistan's @ForeignOfficePk says the "fencing along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was being done to address Pakistan’s serious security concerns and was fully in accordance with the established norms of international law, without encroaching into Afghan territory."
— Tahir Khan (@taahir_khan) August 13, 2020
Reacting to the report, the FO spokesperson said that the Afghan side would be well-advised to engage on border matters through the relevant institutional mechanisms to “address any misconceptions”.
“Regrettably, Pakistan’s suggestion for conducting joint topographic surveys had not been positively responded to by the Afghan side,” he said.
Pakistan: we respect territorial integrity of Afghanistan
The spokesperson also reaffirmed that Pakistan respected the territorial integrity of Afghanistan and conducted its relations with the brotherly country in accordance with the principles of the United Nations charter and expected “reciprocity from the Afghan side”.
On July 30, at least three people, including a woman, were killed and over 20 injured on the Pakistan side in a clash between an unruly mob and security forces at the Friendship Gate border crossing in Chaman, while a heavy exchange of fire also took place between Pakistani and Afghan security forces.
Frontier Corps North completes fencing work on Pak-Afghan border This will reduce terrorism on the part of Afghanistan. A secure border is the guarantor of a developed Pakistan. PTM and similar movements will have a tough time. pic.twitter.com/ULYD51Jfz5
— Malghalara 👑 (@ItsMalghalara) August 6, 2020
The FO had later said that Afghan forces had opened “unprovoked” fire on civilians gathered on Pakistan’s side of the Friendship Gate and the incident resulted in casualties after Pakistani troops responded to the fire “only in self-defence”.
Pakistan welcomes steps toward Afghan Peace
Pakistan on Wednesday welcomed the Afghan grand assembly’s proposed release of some 400 key Taliban prisoners, a key demand from the warring group for the start of the much-awaited intra-Afghan dialogue and move forward with Afghan Peace.
During a farewell meeting with outgoing Afghan Ambassador Shukrullah Atif Mashal in the capital Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi hoped the intra-Afghan negotiations would commence “at the earliest” bringing the 18-year war in Afghanistan to an end.
If an Afghan Soldier had guts to fire openly on Pak – Afg Border showing up in front of camera. This is how 1 bullet from a 11 corps sniper answers. pic.twitter.com/CWjvPHyWpJ
— Khalid H Khan (@KhalidHKhan3) August 12, 2020
Qureshi urged the Afghan leadership to seize “this historic opportunity to achieve a comprehensive, broad-based and inclusive political settlement” in the country, according to a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
On Sunday, Afghanistan’s Loya Jirga, or the grand assembly, approved the release of the Taliban prisoners, paving the way for start of direct talks between the group and the Kabul government.
Accepting the Loya Jirga’s recommendations, President Ashraf Ghani on Monday signed a decree to release the Taliban prisoners, Afghan media reported quoting unnamed government sources.
The move was part of a prisoner swap deal, following a landmark peace agreement between the US and the Taliban in Doha in February this year.
The Afghan government has so far released 4,600 Taliban prisoners, in addition to 500 prisoners, who were not in the Taliban list, according to local media.
GVS News Desk with additional input by other sources