QUETTA: With another flag meeting between Pakistani and Afghan border officials in Chaman ending in failure to break the impasse over opening of the border crossing, the Friendship Gate remained closed to travellers from the two countries on Tuesday.

The border crossing was closed earlier this month by the Pakistani authorities after some Afghans burnt a Pakistan flag at Vesh, on the Afghan side of the border.

During the meeting the Pakistani officials — led by Lt Col Changez Khan of the Frontier Corps, Balochistan — told the Afghan delegation that burning of the flag and torching of a portrait of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had hurt the sentiments of Pakistanis and the authorities had to close the Friendship Gate in Chaman as a result.

The Afghan delegation, led by Colonel Muhammad Ali, condemned the burning of the flag. “The Afghan officials condemned the torching of the Pakistan flag and termed it a conspiracy by the enemy to create hatred between the two brotherly and Muslim countries,” a senior Pakistani official said.

Proposals finalised at meeting will be sent to authorities in Islamabad, Kabul

Col Ali said that he, on behalf of the Afghan government, condemned the controversial acts. “No doubt, it was a deplorable act. We strongly condemn the conspiracy to generate hatred between Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he added.

Sources said the suggestions formulated at the meeting would be sent to the higher authorities in Islamabad and Kabul where the final decisions on the matter would be taken.

It was the fourth flag meeting between border officials of the two countries to be held in the last two weeks over the issue of closure of the border crossing in Chaman.

Due to the closure, hundreds of Nato containers and other vehicles carrying trade goods have lined up on the two sides of the border crossing, unable to cross it. Similarly thousands of people have been stranded.

Our Correspondent in Landi Kotal adds: At a similar meeting at the Torkham border crossing, officials of the two countries discussed a recent clash between their security personnel in which some Pakistani buildings at the crossing were damaged. Routine matters also came under discussion.

During the talks, the Pakistani officials raised the issue of repair of the damaged buildings. They also told their Afghan counterparts about the perception that Pakistani drivers and travellers were treated rather shabbily on the other side of the border.

For their part, the Afghan officials said Pakistani authorities should give them prior information about any Afghans to be deported and bodies to be handed over, etc.

Published in Dawn, August 31st, 2016


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