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Border crossing with Afghanistan in Chaman reopens

By Baqir Sajjad Syed and Saleem Shahid 2017-05-28
ISLAMABAD / QUETTA: Pakistan on Saturday reopened the Friendship Gate the border crossing with Afghanistan in Chaman district of Balochistan on humanitarian grounds.

The gate was reopened a day ahead of the beginning of Ramazan at the request of Afghan authorities to provide relief to the people living on both sides of the border.`Pakistan has its area under effective control having pushed back Afghan border police troops. Census has been completed in the Pakistani side of the divided villages,` the InterServices Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the military, said whileannouncing the reopening of the crossing.

The border crossing was closed on May 5 when Afghan border security forces fired artillery shells on villages on the Pakistani side of the border, killing over a dozen people.

The villages were attacked while population census was being conducted there.Afghans were opposed to the census in the villages on the border, many of which are divided.

The reopening happened as a result of negotiations between the two sides.

Sharing the outcome of the parleys, the ISPR said there was an agreement on maintaining ceasefire.

`No border violation will be acceptable and Pakistani troops will maintain their positions along the international border in Killi Lugman and Killi Jahangir on Pakistani side of the border,` it said.

Earlier, Afghanistan had been insisting that Pakistani troops deployed along the border should be withdrawn.

The gate reopened at about 4pm, an of ficial said.

Major Mohsin of the Frontier Corps (FC) opened the lock of the Friendship Gate. Soon afterwards a Pakistani truck carrying Afghan transit trade goods entered Afghan territory through the gate.

It was followed by resumption of vehicular traffic between the two countries.

Trucks carrying supplies for US and Nato troops stationed in Afghanistan also crossed over to that country from Chaman.

A large number of Pakistani and Afghan nationals crossed over to the two countries after showing travel documents.

`We are happy with the border reopening as Pakistani businessmen involved in trade, import and export with Afghanistan had suffered losses of millions of rupeesdue to the border closure,` Musa Jan Nourzai, a leading importer and exporter of Chaman said.

`We have reopened the Friendship Gate on humanitarian grounds in view of difficulties faced by our tribal people and to honour Ramazan,` Sector Commander of North Brig Nadeem Sohail told a tribal jirga in Chaman.

He said that Pakistani traders doing business on both sides of the border were f acing difficulties due to closure of the border crossing.

The jirga, held in the FC headquarters, was attended by tribal chiefs and elders, local leaders of political parties and senior officials of the army and administration.Sources said that the jirga reviewed conditions prevailing at the border and discussed problems being faced by the traders of Chaman running their business on the other side of the border.

Trilateral talks Pakistan, China and Afghanistan held the first round of their trilateral Practical Cooperation Dialogue in Beijing on Friday.

The senior official level dialogue was cochaired by Director General of Pakistan`s Ministry of Foreign Af fairs Mansoor Ahmad Khan, his Chinese counterpart Xiao Qian and Khalid Payenda, director general of Afghan Ministry of Finance.`The three sides exchanged in-depth views on trilateral cooperation in a friendly atmosphere and agreed to promote practical measures for cooperation,` the Foreign Office said in a statement.

The three sides reaffirmed that their trilateral cooperation was conducive to peace, stability and development of Afghanistan and the region and that it provided an opportunity for benefitting from the ChinaPakistan Economic Corridor. It was, therefore, agreed to advance practical cooperation in different areas to promote mutual benefit and regional economic integration under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative.