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‘Unprovoked, indiscriminate firing’: Pakistan spars with Afghanistan over Torkham border closure


The Torkham border crossing, considered a key transit point
Image Source : REUTERS The Torkham border crossing, considered a key transit point between Pakistan and Afghanistan for trade

Pakistan accused Afghanistan of ‘unprovoked and indiscriminate firing; across the border that led to the closure of a key Torkham crossing in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and said that such actions embolden the terrorist elements already sheltered in Afghan territory.

Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesperson Mumtaz Baloch accused Afghanistan of construction activities inside Islamabad’s territory that violate to sovereignity of the former country, days after some Pakistani Army soldiers were killed in a cross-border firing incident. 

“On the 6th of September, 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,” said Baloch.

The spokesperson further said that such unprovoked firing cannot be justified and that terrorist elements are enjoying sanctuaries inside Afghanistan, as confirmed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). “Pakistan has continued to exercise restraint and prioritize dialogue in the face of persistent unwarranted provocations by Afghan troops deployed along the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border,” she said.

She also highlighted Pakistan’s role in facilitating Afghan transit trade and appealed for constructive dialogue to resolve bilateral issues and concerns, The spokesperson also reiterated the demand for Afghanistan to respect Pakistan’s territorial integrity and ensure that the Afghan territory is not used for terrorist attacks against Islamabad.

Afghanistan’s allegations on Torkham border

Earlier on Saturday, the Afghan Taliban criticised the closure of the Torkham border crossing and mentioned that the decision would result in heavy losses for business. This came as hundreds of trucks with goods have been stopped after the closure.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan deems the closure of Torkham gate and opening of fire on Afghan security forces by the Pakistani side contrary to good neighbourliness,” said Afghanistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in a statement.

The Pakistan and Afghanistan border forces exchanged fire at the Torkham border last week, causing he main point of transit for travellers and goods to close on Wednesday. Two people were injured in the attack.

The exchange of fire emerged after Afghan authorities reportedly started building a checkpoint on Pakistan’s side in a prohibited area that was close to the main border. Pakistan officials said that Afghan authorities built the checkpoint despite already having another checkpoint in the surroundings.

On the other hand, the Afghan Taliban government claimed that Pakistani forces attacked them when they wanted to reactivate their old outpost with an excavator. The firefight has resulted in casualties, but the exact figures are not yet known.

Disputes linked to the 2,600 km (1,615 miles) border have been a bone of contention between the neighbours for decades. The crossing at Torkham is a essential trading waypoint, where Afghanistan exports truckloads of coal and receives food and other supplies from Pakistan.

Pakistan Taliban stages another attack

Meanwhile, at least four Pakistani soldiers were killed and seven others were injured as the Army repelled an attack by terrorists belonging to the Pakistani Taliban close to the border with Afghanistan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s Chitral district last week.

According to a statement by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), a “large group of terrorists” attacked two Pakistani military posts located near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in Chitral, Geo News reported. The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack.

(with Reuters inputs)

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