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QUETTA: A flag meeting held at the friendship gate between military officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan on the border issue ended in a stalemate on Wednesday as Islamabad rejected Kabul’s claim over two villages close to the border.

It was the fourth flag meeting since Afghan forces killed 13 Pakistanis and injured 40 others in an attack on Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir villages.

Official sources said Sector Commander North Brigadier Nadeem Sohail and Commandant Frontier Corps at Chaman Col Mohammad Usman represented the Pakistani side while Col Amir Mohammad and Col Ambia attended the flag meeting representing the Afghan government.

The sources said the meeting lasted just half an hour as Afghan military officials insisted that Pakistani forces should leave both the villages, claiming that they belonged to Afghanistan.

Kabul’s claim over two villages rejected

“Pakistani troops must evacuate both the villages and go back to the position where they were before the armed clash between Pakistan and Afghan forces,” the Afghan military commanders demanded in the meeting.

However, the military officials representing Pakistan rejected the demand and clarified that the geographical survey conducted for determining the border had proved that the villages were located in Pakistan’s territory.

“Even Google maps confirmed the location of these villages inside Pakistani border,” Pakistan informed the Afghan side and added that Google maps had also identified some more area of Pakistan which was at present under Afghanistan’s control.

Google maps identified as Pakistan’s territory a additional border village and even two military posts manned by Afghan forces.

On May 4, Afghan forces entered the two Pakistani villages and launched an attack on the personnel of the Frontier Corps who had been guarding census teams.

The sources said Afghan military officials refused to continue talks after Pakistani officials did not accept their demand to vacate the two villages and push back Pakistani troops from their present positions.

According to the sources, Afghan military officials said that the border with Pakistan would remain closed till the presence of Pakistani troops in the two villages.

“No progress was made at the flag meeting as Afghan officials left the meeting without any decision,” a senior Pakistani security official told Dawn, adding that there was no sign of opening of the border at Chaman because of the negative attitude of Afghan officials and their claim over Pakistani villages.

The border was closed by Pakistan after the Afghan attack on FC troops and shelling on civilian population in the two border villages.

All kinds of traffic, including trucks carrying Afghan Transit Trade goods and Nato supplies for US troops stationed in Afghanistan, has been suspended for the past 12 days.

There is no crossing of border from both sides. The movement of people and vehicles has been restricted in the area close to the border.

Pakistan had allowed some 50 Afghans to go back to their country who had come here for treatment on a valid passport and visa. But no one was allowed to enter Pakistan from the other side during the past 12 days.

Published in Dawn, May 18th, 2017