ISLAMABAD - Pakistan and Afghanistan were again at odds yesterday as Islamabad pledged to continue construction of the gate at the Torkham border while Afghan envoy Omar Zakhilwal threatened to ‘expose all the secrets pertaining to boundary’ if it was not stopped.

Afghan envoy’s harsh tone was in sharp contrast to his earlier statement that the two countries had agreed on ceasefire. Omar Zakhilwal had met civil and military leaders before coming up with that positive statement the other day.

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz and Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria all gave identical statements in favour of the gate and also hoped to improve ties with the war-ravaged neighbour.

The defence minister said that border management was a matter of national security and Pakistan will not back down from this.

Afghan ambassador earlier accused Pakistan of violating the ceasefire. Dr Omar Zakhilwal alleged the construction of the gate at the Torkham border was also a violation.

The envoy said it was decided between both countries that the matter would be resolved by higher officials through negotiations but Pakistan army went ahead to construct it without taking Afghanistan into confidence.

Omar Zakhilwal also threatened to “expose all the secrets pertaining to Torkham border”. He warned of dire consequences if Pakistan persisted with the construction of the gate, claiming Pakistan was continuously violating the ceasefire.

Currently, the Pakistan army is continuing with the construction of a gate at Torkham border while Afghanistan government has assured of no interference after four days of unprovoked firing.

An army major named Ali Jawad Changezi lost his life in hospital after sustaining injuries in Afghan shelling. Officials said the martyr was inspecting artillery positioned at the border when he was injured. Two security personnel were injured on Wednesday taking the tally to over 15.

Making a policy statement in the Senate yesterday, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said Pakistan had been in talks with Afghanistan for over a year to ensure better management of the border to stop militant infiltration from both sides. He said this is in the interest of both the countries.

“Pakistan is determined for effective border management with Afghanistan for peace and security in the region,” he added.

Also yesterday, Adviser to PM on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz said Pakistan believed effective border management was a key to enhancing security and checking infiltration of terrorists along Pak-Afghan border.

In a policy statement in the National Assembly, he said it was vital for combating terrorism. The Advisor reaffirmed the government's commitment to complete construction work at Torkham as this is part of the plan to strengthen border controls and regulate movements across border.

This week, Pakistan army spokesman Lt-Gen Asim Bajwa said efforts were underway on the political, diplomatic and military level to halt the escalation, saying “it will get resolved”.

He said Pakistan has seen incursions by militants from across the Torkham border lately, which prompted authorities to implement more effective border control.

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria in his weekly media briefing here yesterday said Pakistan and Afghanistan were engaged in talks to defuse tension. He said Pakistan’s border management efforts were part of counter-terrorism actions.

The spokesman said the issue of Durand Line was a settled issue between two countries. He said the United Nations and the world at large recognise the Pak-Afghan border.

The spokesman said Afghans were being misguided by those elements which do not want peace in Afghanistan.

Updating about the current situation at Pak-Afghan border, Zakaria said both sides were in contact with each other.

“Small irritants, uneasiness and tension is a common thing among countries and can be resolved through dialogue,” he said.

He said Pakistan believed that effective border management could serve mutual interests, which was basically to address the concerns on both sides directly relating to terrorism.

He termed the border management essentially a part of Pak-Afghan counter-terrorism efforts and said Pakistan was determined to put in place measures to regulate cross-border movements with effective controls.

He mentioned that more gates would be constructed at the entry and crossing points along 2400-kilometre-long porous Pak-Afghan border and said the plan would be executed phase-wise.

About repatriation of Afghan refugees, the spokesman said it was time for Afghanistan and international community to step forward in rehabilitating the three million Afghan refugees which Pakistan had been hosting for over 35 years.

“It is the earnest desire of Pakistan to see peace in Afghanistan so that Afghan refugees could return to their country in a dignified manner,” he said.

To a question, the spokesman said Pakistan strongly condemned human rights violations in Kashmir and it has raised issue at various international forums.

The spokesman said Pakistan will be formally admitted to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization as full member next week.

In a brief statement yesterday, former President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the violation of the ceasefire by Afghanistan. He said the firing should stop immediately adding the Pakistanis enjoyed historic ties with the Afghans and this relationship should not be destroyed.

Separately, former Interior Minister Rehman Malik strongly condemned the unprovoked firing by Afghan Forces at Torkham border.

In a statement, Malik said Afghanistan had never been a friend of Pakistan as it has always played in the hands of India and US.

He demanded the government of Pakistan to stop Afghan transit trade till the Afghan government does not explain its position on the matter.

Malik said the government of Pakistan and its people on humanitarian grounds have always helped Afghan refugees for more than last three decades and have provided them equal opportunity of business, health and education but Afghan forces on the other hand are killing our soldiers.

He urged the government to throw Afghan refugees out of Pakistan and the army may be given the task for the said purpose.

Malik also advised government to get a complaint registered with UN against US on drone strikes.

He also said it was “our failure that even we are losing friend like Iran”