KURRAM: A jirga comprising tribal elders and officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to a ceasefire on Saturday after four days of clashes on the border in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The skirmishes bet­ween the forces of Pakis­tan and Afghanistan escalated on Friday, prompting large-scale displacement from villages and settlements near the Kharlachi border crossing in Kurram.

The truce restored pe­ace in the area, and the border crossing is also exp­ected to be reopened soon.

Tribal elder Jalal Bangash told Dawn that the jirga was held at the Kharlachi border crossing and attended by local elders, clerics and officials from both sides.

The meeting decided to form a joint peace committee to “make efforts for maintaining peace in the area”, he added.

The jirga also resolved to solve contentious issues amicably.

In view of the problems faced by people on both sides of the border, the jirga participants agreed to implement the ceasefire in letter and spirit, Mr Bangash said, adding that for this reason, the crossing would be opened for without any delay.

The two sides also agreed to hold another meeting soon.

Some locals, who had left the area due to clashes, have returned following the peace deal, sources told Dawn.

A local, Shah Nawaz, said residents faced severe hardships due to clashes that began earlier this week. Schools in border areas were closed, and cross-border trade also remained suspended.

While no official statements were released by either the district administration or Inter-Services Public Relations, casualties were feared as forces traded fire.

At her weekly press briefing on Friday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch was repeatedly asked about the situation on the Afghan border.

However, rather than offering any specific information about the clashes, she reiterated that Pakistan was ready to defend itself against any threat to its security and sovereignty.

Published in Dawn, May 19th, 2024

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