ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Friday shut the Chaman and Torkham gates at the Pak-Afghan border for two days to facilitate the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan.

The foreign ministry here said the gates will remain closed on October 19-20 on Afghanistan’s request in view of its parliamentary elections.

A foreign ministry statement said: “On a request by the government of Afghanistan, it has been decided to keep the friendship gates on Pakistan-Afghanistan border crossing points at Chaman and Torkham closed on October 19 and 20.”

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Dr Mohammed Faisal said the decision had been taken to support Afghanistan in smooth conduct of upcoming parliamentary elections in the country. “Both the crossing points will remain closed for all kinds of traffic except emergency cases,” he said.

Earlier, Dr Faisal said Pakistan was fencing its border with Afghanistan to check movement of undesirable elements. He said Afghanistan also needed to take similar steps.

The spokesperson said that Chaman crossing point was open between the two countries as “we are committed to facilitate trade and people-to-people contacts with the neighbouring country.”

QURESHI REITERATES PAK COMMITMENT TO PEACE

Separately, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday called his Afghan counterpart Salahuddin Rabbani to express his condolences on the demise of senior Afghan leaders and officials, including the police chief and intelligence head of Kandahar, in a terrorist attack.

Qureshi also offered prayers for the deceased and his thoughts and condolences for the victims’ families, adding that Pakistan continued to stand with its Afghan brothers and sisters, sharing their pain and grief, said a foreign ministry statement.

He reiterated that Pakistan condemned terrorism. “We would continue to work with Afghanistan for achieving long-term peace and stability in the region, for which ending the conflict in Afghanistan was an essential step. Peace and economic development in Pakistan was linked with restoration of complete peace and stability in Afghanistan,” he said.

The foreign minister expressed the hope that parliamentary elections would be held in a peaceful environment throughout Afghanistan on October 20.

These elections are an important landmark for strengthening of democracy in the country, which remained the key to achieve sustainable peace and progress in Afghanistan.

He also reassured Rabbani about Pakistan’s complete support for Afghan democratic process. FM Rabbani briefed Mr Qureshi about the difficulties being faced by the Afghan government in holding the upcoming elections in Afghanistan in a successful manner. He reiterated Afghan government’s strong resolve to overcome all difficulties in this regard.

Rabbani also expressed the hope that both countries would continue to work together in pursuing peace and an end to the decades-old conflict in Afghanistan, said the statement.

This week, the representative in Pakistan for United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Ruven Menikdiwela called on Minister of state for Interior Shehryar Khan Afridi in Islamabad.

In the meeting, matters related to refugees issues came under discussion, said an official statement. UNHCR Pakistan Head greatly appreciated the compassion with which Pakistan has hosted Afghan refugees for the last four decades.

The Minister of State said: “We value the contribution of UNHCR towards humanity. Particularly, UNHCR played a crucial role for rehabilitation of Afghan refugees in Pakistan.” The minister stressed that it is “our ultimate objective as a responsible nation to serve the humanity.” He said that Interior Ministry will go extra mile to support UNHCR in the interest of humanity.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and his team have been levelling allegations against Pakistan of sheltering and supporting the militants who were carrying out terror attacks in their country. Pakistan rejects the claims and has sought evidence.

This month however, Pakistan and the United States agreed to work jointly to placate the Taliban and bring them on the talks table. The Afghan government also supported Pakistan’s efforts.

US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Zalmay Khalilzad visited Pakistan and held meetings with Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi and Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua.

In his meeting with Zalmay Khalilzad, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi said that Pakistan will continue to play its role for political solution of the Afghan conflict.

 

 

Pakistan shuts border gates on Kabul’s request