ISLAMABAD: After recent tensions and skirmishes on Torkham border, Pakistan and Afghanistan on Monday agreed to find a practical solution as both sides expressed commitment to resolve all border management issues bilaterally.
Fighting broke out when Pakistan started building a gate at the border to stop militants crossing over from Afghanistan.
The construction on the Pakistani side of the border was followed by firing from Afghan soldiers, triggering diplomatic tensions between the two neighbouring countries.
Both sides agreed on a ceasefire on Thursday, and it was decided that an Afghan delegation led by deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai would visit Pakistan for talks on Monday.
The Afghan delegation visited on the invitation of Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, the foreign office statement said.
During the meeting Foreign Secretary Aizaz Choudhry told members that management of the Pak-Afghan border is crucial to combat terrorism. He said that managing the border will prevent non-state actors from entering the country, sources said.
He added that border management will not just benefit Pakistan but also Afghanistan. A border management mechanism will prevent smuggling of goods, he said.
A statement from the Afghan foreign ministry said the talks were held in an “amicable and friendly atmosphere” but said Karzai had raised what it called “various violations” by Pakistan, including setting up checkpoints in Afghan territory.
“Moreover, he strongly protested against Pakistan’s ongoing unprovoked artillery shelling of Afghan villages,” it said.
Thousands of vehicles normally pass through the crossing every week, making it a vital trade link between the countries.
On Monday, dozens of Pakistani traders protested outside the provincial parliament in Peshawar, demanding that Afghan refugees be deported.
Pakistan hosts some 2.5 million Afghans who have fled fighting in their home country.
A protest leader said the free movement of Afghans into Pakistan had destroyed peace in the country and needed to be checked.
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