Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) said it wants its border with Afghanistan to be a one of “peace and amity between the two countries” and that “unprovoked firing by Afghan border security forces invariably emboldens terrorist elements”.
The FO said this in a press release on Monday, responding to Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ remarks regarding the temporary closure of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border at Torkham after a gun battle erupted last week between border forces.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan deems the closure of Torkham gate and opening of fire on Afghan security forces by the Pakistani side contrary to good neighbourliness,” Taliban administration’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had earlier said in a statement.
Pakistan local administration official Irshad Mohmand told AFP that “Afghan forces tried to establish a check post in an area where it is agreed… that both sides will not establish a check post.”
The FO responded by saying “Pakistan cannot accept the construction of any structures by Interim Afghan Government inside its territory since these violate its sovereignty.”
It went on to say that “such unprovoked and indiscriminate firing on Pakistani border posts cannot be justified under any circumstances and that such firing emboldens terrorist elements” which “are enjoying sanctuaries inside Afghanistan as confirmed by the UN Security Council’s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team in its latest report.”
Temporary closures take place only in extreme cases such as the September 6 incident on the border or when Afghan soil is used to launch terror attacks inside Pakistan, it added.
The FO statement said remarks made by the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs included some irrelevant comments and unsolicited advice about Pakistan’s economy and foreign trade.
’’For the last several decades, Pakistan has facilitated Afghan transit trade and will continue to do so. However, Pakistan cannot allow the misuse of the transit trade agreement,“ the FO said, referring to a bilateral trade agreement signed in 2010.
“We expect the Afghan interim authorities to be mindful of Pakistan’s concerns, respect the territorial integrity of Pakistan and ensure that the Afghan territory is not used as a launching pad for terrorist attacks against Pakistan,” the FO statement concluded.
On Saturday, the Afghan Taliban criticised the closure of its main border, saying the halt in trade would see heavy losses for businesses.
As per Syed Jawad Hussain Kazmi, Chairman of the Pakistan Border Trade Council and President Khyber Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the closure caused huge losses to traders.
Kazmi expressed his concern over the situation, stating that the closure of the board has severely impacted the livelihoods of traders who rely on cross-border trade for their income. He added that the closure has also affected the bilateral trade relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.