ISLAMABAD          -       Pakistan’s security forces only responded in self-defence after being provoked by the Afghan forces, the foreign ministry said on Friday.

A statement issued by the foreign ministry said: “On 30 July 2020, at the Friendship Gate Chaman, Afghan forces opened unprovoked fire on innocent civilians gathered towards Pakistan’s side of the international border.”

It added: “Pakistan troops deployed on the posts were also simultaneously engaged by Afghan posts. Pakistan troops responded to protect our local population and acted only in self-defence. It is reiterated that Pakistan Force did not open fire first and responded in self-defence only.”

To de-escalate the situation, the statement said, “the Pakistan side immediately activated both military and diplomatic channels and it was after hectic efforts that the firing was stopped from Afghan side.”

The borders with Afghanistan were opened for pedestrian movement and trade, upon the request of the Afghan authorities.

“Pakistan is undertaking concerted efforts to ensure regulated movement of trade between the two countries, which are being challenged by elements opposed to such regulation. Moreover, due to Eid ul Azha, pedestrians’ move was also allowed. People gathered for this purpose were deliberately targeted by Afghan forces for incomprehensible reasons,” it added.

This unfortunate incident, it said, “resulted in numerous casualties and deliberate/serious damage to state infrastructure on the Pakistan side. There were, reportedly, unfortunate losses on the Afghan side as well. All this could have been avoided if fire had not been initiated from the Afghan side.”

Pakistan reiterated its sincere readiness to further enhance fraternal relations with Afghanistan in the interest of peace and stability in the region. “We hope our constructive efforts will be reciprocated,” the statement said.

Earlier, at least three people, including a woman, were killed and over 20 injured in a clash between an unruly mob and security forces at Friendship Gate border crossing in Chaman on Thursday, while a heavy exchange of fire also took place between Pakistani and Afghan security forces. The border crossing was reopened on Wednesday to allow people from both sides to travel to their native areas to celebrate Eid.

According to reports, a large number of people gathered and staged a sit-in at Friendship Gate on Thursday with the intention to cross the border. Frontier Corps (FC) personnel asked them to move away from the gate, but they refused to do so. The FC officials told them that the gate would not be opened until shifting of the protesters from the site.

Meanwhile, a large number of Afghan nationals also gathered there for crossing into Afghanistan. However, when the gate was not opened by the border officials, the protesters became violent and attacked the offices of FC and other government agencies located at the Friendship Gate and set the FC and Nadra offices on fire.

Meanwhile, Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz said that Afghan forces opened unprovoked fire on civilians gathered at Pakistan’s side of Chaman border. 

While addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Friday, he said that some people attempted to cross the border forcefully. He said some element involved in smuggling, provoked them to cross the border for their vested interest.

The Minister said that steps will be taken for an integrated border system with Afghanistan. He said Pakistan has strong relations with Afghanistan and both countries will normalize the situation at borders

gate, but they refused to do so. The FC officials told them that the gate would not be opened until shifting of the protesters from the site. Meanwhile, a large number of Afghan nationals also gathered there for crossing into Afghanistan. However, when the gate was not opened by the border officials, the protesters became violent and attacked the offices of FC and other government agencies located at the Friendship Gate and set the FC and Nadra offices on fire. Meanwhile, Information Minister Senator Shibli Faraz said that Afghan forces opened unprovoked fire on civilians gathered at Pakistan’s side of Chaman border.  While addressing a press conference in Islamabad on Friday, he said that some people attempted to cross the border forcefully.