ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has conveyed its strong protest and serious concern to the Afghan government on the brutal murder of 23 FC personnel inside the Afghan territory.

Sartaj Aziz, Adviser to the Prime Minister on National Security and Foreign Affairs, conveyed this protest to the Afghan Foreign Minister Zarar Maqbool Osmani on Thursday in Male, Maldives, where both were attending the SAARC Ministerial meeting.

The Adviser reminded his Afghan counterpart that in the Trilateral Summit held recently in Ankara, it was agreed that both sides would not only prevent the use of their territory against each other but also take action against militants engaged in hostile action.

Sartaj Aziz urged the Afghan government to take prompt action to apprehend and punish the perpetrators of this heinous crime. The Afghan Foreign Minister promised to convey this message of concern to the relevant authorities in Afghanistan and revert shortly, according to sources.

On the other hand, Pakistan’s Foreign Office Thursday said that Islamabad and Kabul have recently discussed fencing of Pak-Afghan border and certain other actions to be taken on this border. During her weekly briefing Foreign Office Spokesperson Tasnim Aslam Thursday said that Pakistan and Afghanistan have recently discussed a number of proposals including fencing of Pak-Afghan border to stop cross border illegal movements.

“I think that subsequent meetings to further refine and discuss the proposals relating to fencing of the border are yet to take place. Overall, it was a useful meeting between Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Shahid Khan and senior Afghan offices in the sense that these ideas were crystallised.” She said there was also some unanimity of views about certain actions to be taken on this border while commenting on the interactions between Mr Khan and Afghan officials in Kabul. She reiterated Pakistan’s support to Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace and reconciliation process.

Answering a question about sending troops to Saudi Arabia, she rejected such reports saying that no such proposal was discussed during the recent visit of Saudi Crown Prince to Pakistan. There was no veracity in reports about sending of one hundred thousand Pakistani troops to Saudi Arabia, she held. Explaining the importance of defending Pakistan’s Eastern and Western border by 600,000 troops, she said in the present situation it was not possible to send 100,000 military troops to Saudi Arabia. About intra-Kashmir trade, Tasnim said Pakistan and India have agreed to resume across the Line of Control trade. She said Pakistan and India are going to hold meeting of working group on trade by the end of this month to further streamline across Line of Control (LoC) trade and discuss various proposals for smooth flow of trade.

About Pakistan’s position on Syria, the spokesperson said there is no change in Pakistan’s position on this issue. She explained that Pakistan is following Geneva talks on Syria issue that is being done by United Nations and Pakistan wanted peaceful solution to Syrian crisis and wanted to see end to the violence.

Answering another question about Pakistan-Iran border tension, she said both the countries enjoy deep-rooted fraternal, historic and cultural ties and these relations could not be derailed due to a single incident. She said viewing Pakistan-Iran ties through the prism of few incidents is not appropriate. The spokesperson said both the countries are deliberating on Pakistan-Iran border issues in the ongoing meetings of Border Commission, which is underway in Pakistan.

Balochistan chief secretary is representing Pakistan while Sistan province deputy governor is representing Iran along with other security officials in this meeting, which started on Wednesday and continued on Thursday to resolve the border issues. She said, “All those elements who are trying to disturb our ties, will be dealt in a coordinated manner”.

She also clarified that since the Iranian authorities have also taken up the issue with Afghan government that also has international border with Iran, it was yet to be determined whether the abduction of Iranian border guards occurred inside Iran, Pakistan or Afghanistan. Pakistan has been taking measures against those elements involved in human trafficking, smuggling and terrorism activities near Pak-Iran border, she added.

On Pak-Iran gas pipeline project, the spokesperson said that Pakistan and Iran need to renegotiate the timeline for the project, which is being delayed due to financial constraints. The spokesperson said Senate Chairman Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari is also visiting Iran and Iranian leadership has extended invitation to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to visit Iran.

About agreement on CASA-1000 power project, she said all the partners of CASA-1000 Project have agreed for the project but it will take some time as it will be started after stabilisation of the situation in Afghanistan, adding that the project is important to meet the energy crisis in Pakistan.