ISLAMABAD -  China has assured Pakistan it will play its role to defuse tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan, The Nation has learnt.

Pakistan has already contacted the United States to help settle the differences with Kabul after Afghan forces fired inside Pakistan to kill several citizens.

In a retaliatory action, Pakistani forces also killed some Afghan soldiers.

The firing from the Afghan side of the border in Chaman targeted Pakistanis who were conducting a population census and the paramilitary Frontier Constabulary. The injured included FC soldiers. Afghan Chargé d'Affaires Abdul Nasir Yousafi was summoned to the foreign ministry and a strong protest was lodged. The Afghan government however, has shown no remorse.

A senior official at the foreign ministry told The Nation, that China was briefed about the Pak-Afghan tension.

“They promised to help in whatever way they can. Beijing believes peace is vital for regional progress,” he added.

The official said that China understood tension with Afghanistan and Iran, and India would be a big hurdle to achieve peace in the region.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif is already in China to attend the Belt and Road Forum in Beijing.

Sunday, Nawaz Sharif said One belt and One Road (OBOR) project would link three subcontinents and would be a gift to the next generations.

Sharif said peace and development go hand in hand, and “nothing can pave the path for peace and security, more than economic development achieved through regional collaboration.”

Another official at the foreign ministry said that China was concerned about peace in Pakistan for the sake of friendship and for the huge investment it was making in the country under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

“They naturally want peace in Pakistan. They have always been helpful and we believe they can share our efforts to defuse tension with Afghanistan,” he added.

The official said that Pakistan was also in talks with Kabul to settle the differences to achieve the goal of peace.

“Our main point is border management. If this could be done, we will have no issues in the future,” he maintained.

Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan wanted good neighbourly ties with Afghanistan.

“They have started all this tension. Border between the two countries is clearly demarcated and we should manage it well,” he said.

The spokesperson said that Pakistan could not compromise on its sovereignty and would definitely respond to any aggression.

He said that Afghanistan had internal problems and it was unfair to blame them on Pakistan.

“Blame game will not serve any purpose,” the spokesperson added.

Defence analyst Brigadier (retired) Harris Nawaz said that Afghanistan should stop acting on India’s directions and must support Pakistan to defeat terrorism.

“Afghanistan looks to be under the influence of India. They should come out of it and work with Pakistan to improve regional peace,” he said.

Brigadier Nawaz said that Afghanistan had failed to stop infiltration, which was a huge threat to peace.

“When we speak of border management, they start crying,” he contended.

International affairs expert Dr Zahid Anwar Khan said Afghanistan forces targeted civilians recently which could never be justified.

“They are creating instability in the region. If they really want peace, they should work with us and find ways to manage the borders,” he said.

Khan said that Pakistan had tried to improve relations with Afghanistan.

“It is for Afghanistan to understand their interest and join hands with us. If they continue to follow India, they will never achieve their goals,” he said.

Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said on Sunday that the One Belt-One Road concept was the most significant transformative initiative in recent human history.

In his statement at the thematic session on “Connectivity of Think Tanks” in Beijing, Aziz said through focus on connectivity of infrastructure including roads, rail links, sea routes, ports, and connectivity of policy, trade and finance, “we are observing a phenomenon, which has few historical parallels. This initiative is a harbinger of shared hopes, common prosperity and win-win cooperation among the people of the World.”

In a civilisational sense, the true impact of this initiative will be in the realm of thoughts, ideas and cultures.

The think tanks are the breeding grounds for these elements.

Hence, this “dialogue of the think tanks” is an extremely important, cross-cutting segment of the OBOR Summit, he said in his statement released by the foreign ministry here.

He said that Pakistan lauded the spirit of the OBOR initiative, adding the concept of shared partnerships, and voluntary cooperation were the basic principles of the Belt and Road Vision.

“China has created the necessary cooperative mechanisms and brought its intellectual, technological and financial resources to make it a reality. It is for us, the participating countries of this forum, to carry this initiative forward and play our due role in realising its true potential,” he added. 

Through the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said, Pakistan was privileged to be the first flagship project of the Belt and Road initiative.

“CPEC is making excellent progress. In its first phase, the focus is on building the requisite infrastructure and establishing connectivity. Simultaneously, several energy generation and distribution projects have been launched. Gwadar port is being developed as the cornerstone of the OBOR,” he said.

Aziz said that establishment of several Special Economic Zones was an important part of the CPEC.

“Chinese government, state-owned corporations and financial institutions are providing funds, technology and support to the CPEC projects. Gas and oil terminals will distribute energy throughout Pakistan and pipelines could be set up for transporting oil and gas to Western China. This important flagship project would lead to not just national but regional development through connectivity,” he said.

Aziz said the think tanks of China and the OBOR countries needed to come together and utilise their combined intellectual resources.

He said that the people-to-people exchange through think tanks could provide opportunities for cross-cultural linkages, improved understanding of each other’s concerns, core interests, sensitivities and then finding common ground.

 “In today’s inter-connected world, our focus should be on leaving behind a legacy of connectivity, shared destiny and win-win cooperation for the coming generations. I congratulate the Chinese government, its leadership and most of all the people of China, for their efforts in laying the foundation of such a legacy for mankind,” the adviser said.