Afghanistan declines invite to send its NSA, FM to Pakistan

Kabul has apparently refused to send to Islamabad its national security adviser and foreign minister, invited for discussion in the wake of the recent clashes between the security forces of the two neighbouring countries after Pakistan started building a gate at Torkham border as part of its new border controls.

Prime Minister’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz on Thursday spoke to Afghan National Security Adviser (NSA) Hanif Atmar over phone and invited him and Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani for talks on the current situation at Torkham border amid the ongoing tension.

Afghan National Security Council spokesperson Tawab Ghorzang also confirmed the Pakistani invitation but said Afghan government has decided to send instead a delegation under Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai.

Kabul’s move appears to suggest that the Afghan government is not keen to have meaningful engagement with Pakistan, commented a senior government official while requesting anonymity.

The official, however, made it clear that Pakistan would welcome any Afghan delegation as it had no intention of prolonging the tensions along the Torkham border. “The Afghan government has not yet officially responded to the invitation extended by the PM’s adviser,” he added.

No date has been announced for the visit and both sides are coordinating to decide the date.

At Torkham, the busiest border crossing between Pakistan and its western neighbour, all activities are suspended since June 12 when Afghan forces resorted to ‘unprovoked firing’ resulting in the death of two Pakistani security officials including a major.

Later, both the sides declared a ceasefire. However, tensions persist and troops are still stationed along the border while thousands of people and vehicles are stranded on both the sides.

At the heart of the controversy is a new border mechanism Pakistan has started implementing from June 1. Under the new border controls, Pakistan has now made it clear that no one will be allowed to cross the key border crossing without valid a passport and visa.

However, Afghanistan objected to Pakistan’s move and started ‘unprovoked firing’ on June 12. Later, Islamabad and Kabul summoned each other’s envoys to record their respective protest over the border incident.

Torkham Clash

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