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Friendship gate opens at Chaman border

December 02, 2003

QUETTA, Dec 1: Pakistan opened on Monday a friendship gate at the Pakistan-Afghan border in Chaman for pedestrians of both sides for legally crossing the international border, official sources said here.

The gate has been built with the mutual understanding reached last year between former Kandahar governor Gul Agha Sherzai and the Pakistan government. Mr Sherzai himself participated in the foundation stone-laying ceremony of the gate.

However, Afghan Defence Minister Gen Fahim, who belongs to the Northern Alliance, opposed the construction of the friendship gate, saying that the gate had been raised on the Afghan territory where Pakistani forces had moved after the ousting of the Taliban government. The opening of the gate could not be formally inaugurated owing to objections from some Afghan officials.

“We have opened the gate for pedestrians of both sides who could cross the border after showing legal travelling documents,” a spokesman for Pishin Scouts stated and added that the gate had been opened to discourage the use of infrequent routes for crossing the border from both sides.

He said Pakistani security forces had taken strict measures for stopping people from illegally crossing the border. “The border with southern Afghanistan is almost sealed off,” he said, adding that Pakistan had established many new checkposts along with the Afghan border, besides installing searchlights to keep constant vigilance.

“We are making all possible efforts to ensure a complete ban on entry of illegal immigrants from both sides of the border,” the Pishin Scouts spokesman said and added that Pakistani security forces were not allowing any person to cross the border, without having proper legal travelling documents.

However, an Afghan foreign office official at Spin Buldak told local reporters that Pakistan had not taken the Afghan administration into confidence before opening the friendship gate. He said that Kabul would seriously take up this issue with Islamabad and soon the spokesman for the Kandahar governor, Khalid Pashtoon, would held a meeting with the Pakistani border authorities in Chaman.

GAS SUPPLY: The Balochistan National Party (BNP-Mengal) has threaten that if the government failed to lay the gas pipeline approved for Kalat till the end of December, the party would a launch a protest drive from Jan 1.

Speaking at a press conference here on Monday, BNP central secretary-general Habib Jalib Baloch, Senator Sana Baloch and Nooruddin Baloch stressed the government to strictly follow Article 158 of the Constitution. The article emphasizes that the people from whose areas resources generate should get benefit.

They described the prime minister and the provincial governor as hurdle in the gas pipeline project for Kalat and alleged that the plan was shifted to Ziarat valley on the direction of the premier and the governor.