TEHRAN, May 28, YJC - Pakistan has reopened a major border crossing with Afghanistan more than three weeks after several people were killed when troops from both sides exchanged fire for several hours.
TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) -
The Pakistani military said in a recent statement that the Chaman crossing into Afghanistan's Kandahar province had been reopened on "humanitarian grounds" after Afghan officials submitted a request.
"It has been agreed upon by Pakistan authorities that ceasefire shall continue to be maintained and no border violation will be acceptable," the statement said.
It, however, noted that Pakistani troops would maintain positions along the border.
Wesh-Chaman is a major border crossing between the two countries. It connects the town of Chaman in Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan to Wesh in Afghanistan's Kandahar province.
On May 5, Pakistani officials said Afghan troops had launched a cross-border attack on a group of Pakistani government employees who were carrying out census operations in the villages of Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir. The troops who were escorting the employees also came under attack, Islamabad claimed.
At the time, Pakistan announced that at least a dozen Pakistani civilians had been killed and over 40 others, including women and children, had been injured in the attack.
Pakistani border guards prepare to deploy to the Afghan border at a camp on the Chaman border on May 5, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Afghan officials said dozens of Afghan and Pakistani troops were killed in the fierce fighting.
Zia Durani, a police spokesman for Afghanistan's Kandahar province, said at the time that Pakistani officials were using the census as a cover for "malicious activities and to provoke villagers against the government."
On May 7, the Pakistani army said it had destroyed up to five Afghan border checkpoints and killed 50 security personnel in retaliation for the Afghan cross-border attack.
The Afghan-Pakistani border has been tense in recent months.
In February, the Islamabad government decided to close the Torkham and Chaman borders with Afghanistan following a wave of deadly attacks across various parts of Pakistan.
Last year, Pakistan started building a barrier at the main border crossing in the northwestern town of Torkham. The move irked the government in Kabul.
The two countries are in a dispute over the demarcation of the border, which is a key battleground in the fight against the Taliban.
Islamabad recognizes the Durand Line, the 1893 British-mandated border between the two neighbors, but Kabul says activity by either side along the line must be approved by both countries.
Successive governments in Afghanistan have never recognized the British-drawn colonial era border line with Pakistan.
In addition, Pakistan and Afghanistan regularly accuse each other of sheltering their enemy insurgents. Both sides, however, deny such an allegation.
Kabul blames elements inside the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for supporting the Taliban militants, while Islamabad blames the Afghan government for giving refuge to militants on its side of the border. The two sides also accuse one another of not doing enough to stop militants engaging in cross-border raids.