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June 17, 2016

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Afghan border will be fenced off: Pakistan

Afghan border will be fenced off: Pakistan

Foreign Office says more gates will be installed; no going back on border management; Afghans being misguided by those not interested in seeing peace in their country; small incidents should not be termed war; heavy weapons at Torkham ‘worry’ US; Pakistan to be formally admitted to SCO next week

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday announced that the border with Afghanistan would be fenced off and more gates constructed and said the small incidents which occurred during border tension should not be named war.

In the weekly press briefing here, the Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria said border management was part of Pakistan’s strategy to counter terrorism.“Other than Torkham, gates would also be installed at other border crossings and there would be no going back in this regard,” Zakaria said.

He said in future there should be no communication gap between Islamabad and Afghanistan and all issues should be resolved through dialogue, especially since the Afghans were being misguided.

Without naming those behind misguiding the Afghans, the spokesman said: “Afghans are being misguided by those not interested to see peace in Afghanistan. We have a very special relationship with Afghanistan and we want to resolve all our issues through dialogue. The objective of this dialogue is that there should be no communication gap in future.”

Regarding the Torkham situation, which has seen unprovoked firing resulting in the martyrdom of an army major and injuries to 15 security personnel, Zakaria said both sides were in touch with each other at diplomatic and military levels. “I am sure there will be a mutually-acceptable agreement on the issue. We have shared our concern and disappointment with the Afghan government and have also urged them to take necessary steps to avoid the recurrence of such incidents in future,” the spokesman added.

“At this moment, there is no movement of persons or goods at the border because of the recent situation. It’s not that we have closed the border as a policy decision; it is to ensure the safety of people on both sides,” said the spokesman.

“The cooperation of Afghan government can play an important role in achieving ourshared objective of promoting lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region,” he said.

As more and more voices are being raised that the government has to take the return of millions of Afghan refugees to their homes seriously, the spokesman said the number of Afghans who sought refuge in Pakistan was much higher and initially they were six million.

“We have been hosting an unprecedented number of refugees for over 35 years. Unfortunately, the Afghan people have suffered for so long. It is Pakistan’s earnest desire to see peace in that country so that the Afghans, including the refugees, live in peace. It is time for Afghanistan and international community to take steps to repatriate these refugees in a dignified manner.”

Still keen to get an entry into the prestigious NSG club, the spokesman hoped that in their next meeting in Seoul, the NSG countries would agree to initiate discussion on developing a criteria-based approach for NSG membership for non-NPT states, which also takes into account the imperative of regional strategic stability and benefits for the non-proliferation regime.

“We desire a level playing field and criteria-based approach, which treats the applications of Pakistan and India in a non-discriminatory manner. Rather than country-specific exemptions, which override non-proliferation principles for strategic and commercial considerations, non-discriminatory criteria should be adopted which strengthen the non-proliferation regime,” added the spokesman.

Meanwhile, he also announced that next week Pakistan will be formally admitted as a member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), where for years it has attended the SCO with an Observer Status.

To a query about the recent statements coming from New Delhi about the Pathankot terrorist attack, the spokesman said India had stated that they could not find any involvement of the Pakistani government but fingers were being pointed at certain ‘groups’ inside Pakistan.

“Whatever information and intelligence has been shared during the JIT’s visit is being examined from various angles, including its validity from legal angle. As for the visit of NIA, it needs to be noted that the matter is still under investigation. Let’s wait for the outcome,” he explained.

 Agencies add: Meanwhile, the United States Thursday expressed concern over recent clashes at the Torkham crossing point between Afghanistan and Pakistan.During a press briefing here, State Department spokesman John Kirby said they had received reports that casualties had been taken on both sides.

“We’re also concerned about reports of presence of heavy weapons at the border,” he added.John Kirby said the US continues to encourage the governments of both Pakistan and Afghanistan to resolve their disagreements at the crossing point and to de-escalate tensions. “As we’ve said many times, we think good relations between the two countries are key to the stability to the region,” he said.

 

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