talks in Pakistan to resolve afghanistan disPute stall
PAKISTAN and Afghanistan failed to reach an agreement on border management in talks on Monday (20), officials said, after days of clashes at the border last week left four dead and thou- sands stranded.
Fighting broke out when Pakistan started building a barrier at the crossing to stop militants passing over from Afghanistan.
That plan angered Afghanistan, which rejects the colonial-era
Durand Line border drawn up in 1893 and objects to Pakistan building check- points along the disputed boundary.
The two countries agreed on a ceasefire last Thursday (16), and it was decided that an Afghan delegation led by deputy foreign minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai would visit Pakistan for talks on Monday (20).
Foreign secretary Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry in formed the Afghan delegation Pakistan planned to build four gates at different points on the crossing, a Pakistani foreign office official said.
“There was no final agreement but we have informed them (Afghanistan) of our position,” the official said.
“These gates are important for the safety and security of both Pakistan and Afghanistan.”
A second Pakistani official said the foreign policy chiefs would hold further discussions at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation sum- mit in Tashkent later this week.
A statement from the Afghan foreign ministry said the talks were held in a “a 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 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.
Relations between the neighbours have been strained in recent months. Kabul accuses Pakistan of harbouring militants seeking to topple the Afghan government and not doing enough to bring Afghan Taliban leaders, over which Pakistan holds some sway, to the negotiating table.
Pakistan denies supporting militants and says it is building the border for its security. (Reuters)