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SECURITY officials of Afghanistan and Pakistan hold talks at the Torkham border on Wednesday.—Dawn
SECURITY officials of Afghanistan and Pakistan hold talks at the Torkham border on Wednesday.—Dawn

LANDI KOTAL: Security officials of Pakistan and Afghanistan met at the Torkham border on Wednesday to review progress in the border management policy and maintenance of the security fence erected on the Pakistani side of the border.

Official sources said that Afghan border forces raised objections over repair and maintenance of a portion of the fence. They said Afghan officials asked Pakistani officials to repair the fence only on the Pakistani side and leave the other side of the fence unattended.

The Afghan officials were informed in clear terms that the fence had been erected inside Pakistani territory and the neighbouring country had no right to raise any objection to any activity conducted on Pakistan’s soil. Both sides agreed to extend the border closure time from 8pm to 9pm on a daily basis for the convenience of pedestrians and trucks carrying trade goods to both sides.

Pakistani officials acknowledged that their Afghan counterparts were helping in implementation of the border management policy Islamabad introduced in June 2016.

Objections of Afghan side to fence repair rejected

They said the Afghan side too had now regulated the influx of their nationals by allowing them in small batches to cross the border thus reducing the burden on Pakistani security and immigration officials.

They said that with effective implementation of the new policy along with fencing of the border, illegal cross-border movement had been checked.

They added that over 3,000 Afghans with no travel documents had been apprehended near the border while trying to cross into Pakistan through unfrequented routes after the introduction of the new policy nearly two years ago.

“These routes have now been effectively plugged with iron fencing along with establishment of additional security check-posts along the border,” they said.

Sources said that a dual fence had been erected along about 30km of the border on both sides of Torkham at a cost of Rs30 million as 1km dual iron fencing cost a minimum of Rs1m.

The security establishment has acquired almost entire labour force from local tribes.

Wednesday’s flag meeting was held at the zero point of the Torkham border with the Pakistan sided headed by Lt Col Arshad and the Afghan side by Lt Col Waheed.

The border crossing remained closed during the meeting but was later reopened and cross-border movement restored.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2018