Pak, Afghan forces agree on ceasefire at Torkham border

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United States calls for resolution of issue

Staff Reporter

Peshawar—The border authorities of Pakistan and Afghanistan on Wednesday formally agreed over ceasefire at Torkham and waved white flags on both sides of the border, it has been learnt.
According to security sources, the border authorities of both the sides met for a short meeting following which they waved white flags on their respective sides.
The construction work on Torkham gate also started following the ceasefire announcement.
Earlier in the day on Wednesday an Afghan official said that renewed clashes at Pakistan-Afghan border crossing have killed an Afghan border guard and wounded five others, with Pakistan saying it has dispatched more troops and weapons to the volatile border amid an escalation in tension between the two neighbours.
Pakistan officials maintain that the unprovoked firing from Afghan forces is disrupting border management efforts by Pakistan Army.
“Strengthening of management and facilitation of the movement of people and vehicles across the border is an important part of counter-terrorism effort and also for checking drug trafficking and other illegal activities,” Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said in an official statement on Wednesday.
Sartaj Aziz said that durable peace and stability across the border cannot be achieved without taking effective measures for strengthening border controls.
“Border management is aimed at addressing the common concern of infiltration and hence to enhance mutual security of both the countries and their peoples”, he remarked, and added the two sides should resolve issues through dialogue.
Afghan border police official Jamal Khan said the guard was killed late Tuesday. Another Afghan guard was killed the first night of the violence and a Pakistani officer wounded in the border clashes died on Tuesday. Pakistan’s security officials confirmed the latest exchange of fire but say the ceasefire is now holding.
The United States has called on Afghanistan and Pakistan to peacefully resolve their tension on Torkham border.
“We are all watching the tensions very closely,” US State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a press briefing and added that the US was in touch with officials on both sides. “We continue to urge a calm resolution to the tension.”
The spokesman said that the US did not want to see violence and any further escalation in tension. He said Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Ambassador Richard Olson, who was in the region at the time of the incident, shared these sentiments.
In Islamabad, Ambassador Olson met with government officials, including the adviser to the prime minister on foreign affairs and the chief of the army staff, and discussed a range of bilateral and regional issues, the spokesman added.
The Afghan Charge d’Affaires was called to the Foreign Office in Islamabad. Pakistan told the Afghan side that the regulation of movements at Torkham is part of government’s policy to strengthen border management.
A senior military official, while talking to newsmen, said that the gate at Torkham will now be built at any cost. “If someone tries to create hindrance in the process, the army will retaliate with full force,” he added.

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