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Chaman Border: Pakistan reopens southwestern border crossing with Afghanistan for routine traffic

Afghanistan-bound trucks pass through a valley while moving toward the Torkham border crossing in Torkham, Pakistan, June 18, 2016

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FILE - People cross the border coming from Afghanistan to Pakistan, at the border town of Chaman. Pakistan will reopen the Chaman border crossing for routine traffic on Sept. 1, 2016, after days of closure, officials said. Image source: VOA

Pakistan-Afghanistan will reopen a southwestern border crossing, for routine traffic on Thursday after days of closure, stranding thousands of travelers and trade convoys on both sides, officials said.

The Chaman border facility was closed about two weeks ago when Afghans staged an anti-Pakistan demonstration on their side and some angry protesters attacked the border gate and burned a Pakistani flag, according to officials in Islamabad.

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A spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), which guards the Pakistan border, Wednesday cited “successful negotiations” between senior Pakistani and Afghan border authorities for agreeing to resume the traffic.

An official Pakistani statement said Afghan negotiators “condemned the August 18 incident” and promised to take preventive measures in future.

The two sides agreed to “pay due respect to each other testimonials” and hold a monthly flag meeting to address issues of mutual interest for ensuring a “peaceful environment.

Afghan and Pakistani traders said the border closure caused them millions of dollars in losses and urged both the governments to take steps to ensure uninterrupted movement in both directions.

There are four regular crossings between Afghanistan and Pakistan along their 2,600-kilometer frontier. But the Chaman and the northwestern Torkham border posts serve as the two main crossings for trade and travelers.

Afghanistan-bound trucks pass through a valley while moving toward the Torkham border crossing in Torkham, Pakistan, June 18, 2016.
Afghanistan-bound trucks pass through a valley while moving toward the Torkham border crossing in Torkham, Pakistan, June 18, 2016. Image source: VOA

Afghanistan-bound trucks pass through a valley while moving toward the Torkham border crossing in Torkham, Pakistan, June 18, 2016.

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An estimated 50,000 people, mostly Afghans, travel across the two facilities each day in addition to hundreds of trucks carrying trading goods to landlocked Afghanistan.

Construction of a new gate at Torkham by Pakistan recently prompted deadly clashes between Afghan and Pakistani border forces, suspending traffic there for days.

The border tensions stem from a deterioration in relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan in recent months over mutual allegations of supporting terrorist attacks on each other’s soil.

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India Says Pakistan’s Links with Pulwama Attack Clear For All to See

He said while there are claims to offer dialogue from Pakistan, it continues to shelter terror outfits

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Arun Jaitley
"The most favoured nation status which has been granted to Pakistan stands withdrawn.", says Jaitley. Pixabay

India has rejected Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua’s claims denying her country’s links to the Pulwama terror attack, saying that JeM, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, is based in Pakistan, and the “links are clear and evident and for all to see”.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson on Friday termed as “preposterous” the demand for an investigation, saying there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

The spokesperson said India has not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on bilateral relations and it has been sheltering terrorists and terror organisations such as JeM. He said Islamabad has not taken any action against such groups despite international demands.

India also demanded that Pakistan take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control to create a conducive atmosphere in the region free of terror.

The spokesperson’s response came over Pakistan Foreign Secretary’s briefing rejecting Pakistan’s involvement in the terror attack on a paramilitary convoy in Jammu and Kashmir that killed at least 45 troopers. Janjua met envoys of P-5 countries late on Friday.

The spokesperson said JeM has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the attack was a matter of “grave concern” and it had been condemning “heightened acts of violence in the (Kashmir) Valley”. Pixabay

“The organisation and its leadership are located in Pakistan. LeT and other terror groups have welcomed the news of the attack. These groups are also based in Pakistan. Pakistan cannot claim that it is unaware of their presence and their activities.

“They have not taken any action against these groups despite international demands, especially against groups and individuals proscribed by the UN and other countries. The links to Pakistan are clear and evident for all to see. Its own Ministers have shared the same podium with UN proscribed terrorists,” the spokesperson said.

He said there was audio-visual material linking JeM to the terror attack.

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“The demand for an investigation is preposterous when there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the JeM. There are also other audio-visual and print material linking JeM to the terrorist attack. We have therefore no doubt that the claim is firmly established,” the spokesperson said.

He said while there are claims to offer dialogue from Pakistan, it continues to shelter terror outfits.

“We have not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on relations with India. What we have noticed however, are claims to offer dialogue on the one hand, while sponsoring and sheltering terrorists and terrorist organisations such as JeM on the other,” the spokesperson added. (IANS)