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Senate Summons Key Ministers on Border Gate Issue

Afghan Pakistan Friendship Gate

KABUL – A day after Pakistan announced a dispute over the construction of a controversial security gate along the shared frontier was amicably resolved the Meshrano Jirga or upper house of Afghan parliament on Tuesday summoned defence, foreign and interior ministers over the issue. Afghan officials on Monday confirmed Pakistan had completed construction work on the gate they claimed was installed inside Gushta district of eastern Nangahar province.

On Sunday, President Hamid Karzai ordered his top officials to take immediate action to remove the gate and nearly a dozen other Pakistani installations built on the Afghan border. On Monday, Defence Ministry spokesman General Zahir Azimi maintained that no construction activity on the border can be initiated unless approved by both the countries.

He said that “establishing a gate by Pakistan on the Durand Line and inside Afghanistan is against all international norms as well as bilateral understandings.” Azimi was addressing reporters together with Gunter Katz, spokesman for the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Azimi alleged that Pakistani border forces transferred 11 checkpoints across the Durand Line.

Katz said the coalition was looking into the issue but refused to make further comments. “ISAF continues to monitor the situation at the border and we remain in dialogue with the Afghan and Pakistani side on a constructive way ahead,” he said. In a surprise development on Monday, Pakistan declared the dispute had been resolved after an unannounced meeting between senior military commanders of both countries in Rawalpindi, where the Pakistani army is headquartered.

“Afghan forces should not stay calm on keeping the country’s territories and borders secure from being occupied,” Gul Ahmad Aazami, a senator from western Farah told the upper house session on Tuesday. He said if Afghan forces remained silent and did not move to respond, the entire country would be occupied one day.  The lawmaker stressed the need for putting pressure on Pakistan on the international to force the neighbouring into shuning building posts by encroaching on Afghan land.

He called for summoning defence, interior and foreign affairs ministers to explain their positions on the issue. Senator Baz Mohammad Zurmati  said the Afghan government should strongly react to the Pakistani actions. Another senator from Nangarhar said it was nothing new that Pakistani troops had encroached on Afghan lands given the government’s failure to timely react.

Lotfullah Baba suspected “secret deals” between Afghan and Pakistani officials over the construction of military installations by Pakistan on the Durand Line. He claimed some Pakistani officials who visited Gushta district in the recent past had distributed Pakistani ID cards to residents. “The government should investigate it,” he insisted.

First Deputy Chairman Mohammad Alam Ezedyar, who presided over the session, said the government should ask Pakistan why it acted against international norms. He ruled Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassuol, Interior Minister Mujtaba Patang and Defence Minister Bismillah Mohammadi would be summoned for Tuesday to explain the issue. His decision was approved by 70 senators present at the house by raising green cards. (PAN)

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