Pakistan and the interim Afghan Taliban government have reached an understanding to resolve the issue of border fencing through talks, a senior Pakistani official said on Friday.
The Taliban soldiers last week tried to disrupt the fencing along the eastern province of Nangarhar.
He said a local intelligence chief of the Taliban tried to remove the fence and it was not a decision approved by the Taliban leadership.
Soon after the incident Pakistan and the Taliban established contact at the highest level and agreed to resolve the issue through talks.
“Both the sides have reached an understanding not to escalate the situation,” the official said, adding that there were some issues of alignments about the border fencing and the two sides would resolve this mutually.
“Afghan side was requested to coordinate border alignment before fixing the fence,” he added.
The official disclosed that acting Afghan defence minister Mullah Yaqub, who is also a son of Taliban co-founder Mullah Muhammad Omar, visited the troubled region and directed local Taliban commanders not to take such measures in the future.
THE SENATE: The issue was also raised in the Senate.
Former chairman and Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) leader Senator Raza Rabbani questioned the government’s haste to extend support to the Afghan Taliban when the latter did “not even recognise the border”.
Senator Rabbani asked the foreign minister to take the parliament into confidence about a recent incident in which the new rulers in Afghanistan had reportedly barred Pakistan’s security forces from fencing the border.
“They are not ready to recognise the border, so why are we moving forward?” questioned Rabbani, during the session on Friday.
The PPP senator also expressed alarm over reports that the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was regrouping in Afghanistan, “which could possibly fuel terrorism in Pakistan”.
“On what terms is the state talking about a ceasefire with the banned group?” he questioned.
He went on to say that the state of Pakistan meant the civil and military bureaucracy of Pakistan and not the people sitting in parliament.
The incident took place a day before Pakistan was to host an extraordinary conference of the foreign ministers of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation. The Afghan acting foreign minister also attended the daylong meeting, which agreed to set up a trust fund to help Afghanistan prevent the humanitarian catastrophe.
A video circulated on social media showed Taliban soldiers had seized spools of barbed wire and one senior official warning Pakistani soldiers stationed in security posts in the distance not to try to fence the border again.
Afghan defence ministry spokesman Enayatullah Khwarazmi said Taliban forces stopped the Pakistani military from erecting an “illegal” border fence along the eastern province of Nangarhar on Sunday.
He played down the incident, saying everything was now normal. Pakistan did not officially react to the development.
The fencing of the 2,600-kilometre long and rugged border has remained one of the contentious issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The previous administration in Kabul also objected to the fencing of the border and even the Afghan side tried to stop Pakistan from erecting a fence.
Pakistan, however, went ahead with the fencing and as per officials, 90 per cent of the border with Pakistan is now fenced. The fencing is part of the border mechanism Pakistan has been working on for years in order to not just regulate the movement of people but also deny terrorists on both sides to shuttle between the two borders easily.