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New front in war of words between Afghanistan and Pakistan

Karzai comments come in for criticism

Gulf News

Islamabad: Pakistan on Monday advised Afghan president Hamid Karzai not to raise questions about the settled international boundary between the two countries as fresh clashes between the troops from boths the sides were reported.

The clash is the latest indication of a sharp deterioration in relations between the important US allies and comes days before the Pakistan general election.

“The Durand line is a settled issue,” said the foreign ministry spokesperson in comments to Karzai’s remarks at a recent press conference in Kabul. “Opening discussions on this issue is a distraction from the more pressing issues requiring the priority attention and cooperation of Pakistan and Afghanistan.”

About Karzai’s statement urging Taliban to “turn and target” and “aim their weapons at” Afghanistan’s enemies, the spokesperson said that the continuing fight against terrorism and extremism warrants Pakistan, Afghanistan and all other stakeholders to work together in a spirit of cooperation and harmony.

He recalled that Karzai had in the past asked Pakistan to use its influence on the Taliban to enter into dialogue for a reconciliation process.

Pakistan had responded positively to that call, the spokesperson said, adding that Pakistan will continue its support for the Afghan reconciliation process, rather than focusing on the negatives.

Referring to Karzai’s remark that he visited Pakistan 19 times, the spokesperson said that Pakistan’s leadership has also travelled to Afghanistan several times to help build trust and strengthen bilateral relations.

Pakistan remains fully committed to assist in all sincerity towards peace and sustainable economic development in Afghanistan, which “we believe is in the vital interest of Pakistan and our region,” the spokesman said.

On Karzai’s remarks regarding Pakistani posts on the border, the spokesperson pointed to the example of Gursal, which had come under attack from Afghan forces and there had been several threatening and provocative statements made by Afghan leadership in this regard.

The spokesperson reiterated that the posts on Pakistan-Afghanistan border “are serving the useful and mutually beneficial purpose of better border management, which is crucial for interdicting cross-border undesirable activity.”

He reaffirmed the need to use bilateral channels, including military to military contacts, to resolve the issues relating to posts.

In several high-level interactions in recent past, the leadership of Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed on the imperatives of a mechanism for effective border management for the mutual benefit of the two countries, he said.