Islamabad: Pakistan’s foreign minister has expressed hope for a positive outcome of Afghan peace talks and improvement of Pakistan-Afghanistan relationship.
In a meeting with the outgoing Afghan ambassador Shukrullah Atif Mashal, who paid a farewell call on him, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi restated the significance of Pakistan’s bilateral relations with Afghanistan mentioning Prime Minister Imran Khan’s interest in strengthening relations with all neighbouring countries, including Afghanistan.
Qureshi hoped that the intra-Afghan negotiations would commence shortly and urged that the Afghan leadership should seize the “historic opportunity to achieve a comprehensive, broad-based and inclusive political settlement in Afghanistan.”
Pakistan’s foreign minister also welcomed the recommendation of Loya Jirga (consultative grand assembly) to release 400 Taliban prisoners, paving the way for peace talks aimed at ending decades of conflict.
Afghan envoy Mashal also met President Arif Alvi and Chief of the Army Staff Gen Qamar Bajwa a day earlier and thanked the COAS for support to Afghanistan and the Afghan peace process during his tenure. Ambassador Mashal appreciated neighbouring country’s efforts to further improve Pakistan-Afghanistan relations and acknowledged the consistent support extended by Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Pak-Afghan border point at Chaman reopened
The Pak-Afghan border crossing at Chaman reopened for trade a day earlier after a brief closure following a clash on July 30. Islamabad closed the Chaman border due to security concerns after at least three people were killed and 20 injured as protesters stormed a quarantine centre at the border gate between Pakistan and Afghanistan for not being allowed to enter the neighbouring country.
FO rejects allegations of ‘illegal fencing’ along Pak-Afghan border
On Thursday, Pakistan foreign office (FO) rejected the reports in Afghan media that Pakistan military was conducting “illegal” fencing of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri said that the fencing was “fully in accordance with the established norms of international law without encroaching into Afghan territory”. He also clarified that Pakistan is fencing the border to address its “serious security concerns”.
Reacting to the news reports in the Afghan media and reported statement of the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Pakistan FO spokesperson said that the Afghan side would be well-advised to engage on border matters through the relevant institutional mechanisms to address any misconceptions. “Regrettably, Pakistan’s suggestion for conducting joint topographic surveys had not been positively responded to by the Afghan side” he maintained.
FO spokesperson reasserted that Pakistan respects the territorial integrity of Afghanistan and conducts its relations with the country under the principles of UN Charter and expects reciprocity from the Afghan side.