Pakistan, Afghanistan increase troop deployment across Torkham after deadly clashes

Published June 14, 2016
Pakistani soldiers patrol at the Torkham crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan. -AFP
Pakistani soldiers patrol at the Torkham crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan. -AFP

PESHAWAR: The death of Pakistani army officer on Tuesday, after being shot by Afghan forces in a clash across Torkham border, is likely to ratchet up tension between the two neighbouring countries — who sources said were beefing up troop numbers on either side.

The Pakistan army has moved heavy weaponry and additional troops to the Afghan border on Monday night, said Pakistani security officials, who wished not to be identified because they were not authorised to speak to the media.

A senior military official, while talking to DawnNews, said that the gate at Torkham will now be built and at any cost.

“If someone tries to create hindrance in the process, the army will retaliate with full force,” he added.

The officer said the construction of this gate was agreed upon by both sides during a bilateral meeting and it was decided that the construction work will be done during Ramazan after iftar.

“But the Afhan authorities are again violating the mutual agreement.”

Meanwhile, the Afghan forces again opened fire on Pakistani security officials on Tuesday evening, injuring two FC personnel.

Pakistan army retaliated with heavy fire and destroyed a military checkpost inside Afghan area, security sources said.

On Monday, an Afghan border police commander had also confirmed that reinforcements had been deployed to the Afghan side of the border.

Army Chief General Raheel Sharif attended funeral prayers on Tuesday for Major Jawad Ali Changezi, who was among nine Pakistani and six Afghan troops wounded in the fighting, security officials said.

One Afghan soldier was killed, Afghan officials had said on Monday.

In Afghanistan's eastern city of Jalalabad, more than a thousand mourners attended funeral prayers on Tuesday for the dead Afghan soldier.

Torkham border to neighboring Afghanistan remains closed due to clashes. -AP
Torkham border to neighboring Afghanistan remains closed due to clashes. -AP

Hundreds of demonstrators burned Pakistani flags at another protest in the southern Afghan city of Lashkar Gah. Angry protesters chanted “Death to Pakistan”.

The main gates at Torkham, the most frequented official border crossing at the end of the Khyber Pass, stayed closed for a third day, leaving thousands stranded on either side.

“This gate (is) considered essential to check and verify documentation of all border crossers,” ISPR spokesman Asim Bajwa said on social media website Twitter on Monday.

Firing between Pakistani and Afghan forces first broke out on Sunday at the crossing, about 45 km west of Peshawar, over the construction of a new border post on the Pakistani side.

Pakistan says it is building the gate to stop militants from crossing the border.

Afghanistan summoned the Pakistani ambassador on Tuesday to register its protest at the violence, Afghanistan's foreign ministry said.

Pakistan had similarly summoned the Afghan charge d'affaires in Islamabad on Monday, the Pakistani foreign office said.

The Pakistan-Afghanistan border has long been porous and disputed. Afghanistan has blocked repeated attempts by Pakistan to build a fence on sections of the roughly 2,200-km-long frontier, rejecting the contours of the boundary.

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