Building walls, fences won`t end cross-border terrorism, says Afghan envoy
PESHAWAR: Expressing strong opposition to the fencing of the Durand Line, Ambassador Dr Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal said here on Tuesday that it would be better for Pakistan and Afghanistan to solve the issue through dialogue instead.
He was speaking to journalists after visiting the UN Voluntary Repatriation Centre (VRC) for refugees at Chamkani.
Building a fence along the border did not serve the interest of the two neighbours, he stressed when asked aboutthe Pakistan government`s move to build a fence on its side of the border to prevent the infiltration of militants from Afghan territory.
`There is a need to change policies instead of erecting walls and fences on the border to eradicate terrorism.
On March 25, Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa announced that the fencing of the border in Bajaur and Mohmand agencies had begun. The two areas have been declared `high-threat zones`asmilitantsfrequently attack security posts in the two tribal agencies.
Dr Zakhilwal said that Afghanistan would never support fencing of the border because it was in the interest of neither the two countries nor their people. `This is the 21st century and there is a need to remove walls rather than building fences on borders,` he said.People of the same nation (Pakhtuns) resided on both sides of the border and the Afghan government was not in favour of increasing distances among them, he explained, adding that Pakistan would not close the border with Afghanistan in future.
While he admitted that there was tension betweenthe two countries, he stressed that talks were under way to solve those problems.
When asked about his recent meeting with National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasir Khan Janjua, the ambassador said he had met the heads of various institutions, including Gen Janjua, to improve bilateral relations.the two countries, he stressed that talks were under way to solve those problems.
When asked about his recent meeting with National Security Adviser retired Lt Gen Nasir Khan Janjua, the ambassador said he had met the heads of various institutions, including Gen Janjua, to improve bilateral relations.He said he had discussed the repatriation of refugees with the adviser, and added that the situation had changed and that his government would not seek facilities or extension for refugees in Pakistan. `Instead of seeking extension we discussed the return of refugees,` he said.
Dr Zakhilwal hoped that the returning refugees would bring about a positive impact on the economy and political stability of Afghanistan. He said that over 700,000 Afghans including undocumented refugees, had returned to their native lands last year.
`Thousands of refugees will go to their country this year,` he said.
Replying to a question, the ambassador said the large scale return of refugees had overburdened the UN agency`s budget which had forcedthe UNHCR to deduct its cash assistance from $400 to $200 for every returning individual this year.
He said the cash assistance was increased in June 2016 to encourage refugees to return to Afghanistan under a voluntaryrepatriationprogramme.
The UN agency pays $200 to every returning refugee. He urged Afghans to end their life in refuge and live with honour and dignity in their own country.
Afghanistan`s economy would grow with the return ofthe refugees,he said,and the people would play a positive role in bringing about peace in their country.
The UN agency resumed the repatriation process from Pakistan from April 1. The agency is operating two VRCs in Khyber Pal(htunl(hwa and Balochistan. Pakistan has extended stay of registered refugees till December 2017.