Torkham border crossing — the main point of transit for travellers and goods between Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan — was closed on Wednesday last week after security forces from both countries exchanged fire. The incident forced hundreds of vehicles laden with goods to line up and people scrambling to cross over. The two sides have failed to sort out differences over the construction initiated by the Taliban government on the border.
In a statement issued on Monday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said Pakistan cannot accept the construction of any structure by the interim Afghan government inside its territory since it violates its sovereignty.
The spokesperson said on September 6, instead of a peaceful resolution, Afghan troops resorted to indiscriminate firing, targeting Pakistan military posts, damaging the infrastructure at the Torkham Border Terminal and putting the lives of both Pakistani and Afghan civilians at risk, when they were stopped from erecting such unlawful structures.
“Such unprovoked and indiscriminate firing on Pakistani border posts cannot be justified under any circumstances. The unprovoked firing by Afghan border security forces invariably emboldens the terrorist elements. These elements are enjoying sanctuaries inside Afghanistan as confirmed by the UN Security Council‘s Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team in its latest report,” Baloch said.
According to a report in The Express Tribune newspaper, disputes linked to the 2,600 km border have been a bone of contention between Pakistan and Afghanistan for decades.
The crossing has been closed several times in recent years, including a closure in February that saw thousands of trucks laden with goods stranded on each side of the border for days.
The Foreign Office spokesperson said Pakistan has continued to exercise restraint and prioritise dialogue in the face of persistent unwarranted provocations by Afghan troops deployed along the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border.
“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. 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,” she said.
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