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May 28, 2017

Pakistan opens Friendship gate on Kabul’s request

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May 28, 2017

RAWALPINDI: Pakistan on Saturday reopened the border (Friendship gate) with Afghanistan at Chaman on humanitarian grounds on the eve of holy month of Ramazan.

This step was taken following a request from the Afghan authorities, the Inter-Services Public Relations here said.

After the Chaman incident, Pakistan has its area under effective control having pushed back the Afghan border police and troops.

Meanwhile, the census process had already been completed on the Pakistani side of the divided villages.

It has been agreed upon by Pakistan authorities that ceasefire shall continue to be maintained and no border violation will be acceptable and the Pakistani troops will maintain its positions along the international border in Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir on the Pakistani side of the border.

AFP adds: Islamabad decided to close the major crossing at Chaman in early May after Afghan troops opened fire on a Pakistani census team, sparking a deadly firefight across the frontier, leaving at least eight civilians dead and an unconfirmed number of military casualties on both sides.

Afghanistan had viewed some of the villages visited by the Pakistani census takers as within their territory, but the two countries later agreed to use Google Maps to help settle the dispute.

After weeks with traffic between the neighbours choked off at the border, the Pakistani military on Saturday said it would reopen the crossing "on humanitarian grounds”.

The so-called ‘Durand Line’, a 2,400 km frontier drawn by the British in 1896 and disputed by Kabul, has witnessed increased tension since Pakistan began trenching along it last year.

Ethnic Pashtuns living in the remote region have traditionally paid little heed to the frontier and villages straddling it have mosques and houses with one door in Pakistan and another in Afghanistan.

The announcement of the border opening comes as officials in another part of Balochistan said Iranian forces had fired across the border at a convoy of traders in the Panjgur district, killing one man.

Relations between the neighbouring countries have been tense since April when eight Iranian border guards were killed in clashes with armed rebels in the Sistan-Balochistan province.

Iranian authorities alleged the attack was carried out by militants hiding in Pakistan.