Pakistan on Monday vowed to protect its interests and continue fencing its porous border with Afghanistan.
At a news conference in the capital Islamabad, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan is engaging with the Taliban to “diplomatically” resolve some “confusions” over the fencing exercise.
Late last month, Pakistani soldiers were stopped from installing a security fence in the eastern province of Nangarhar, the first such incident since the Taliban came to power in mid-August 2021.
Islamabad previously claimed that the row was resolved and the two sides agreed to work with “consensus.”
“We are not silent. We have fenced the border (with Afghanistan), and it will continue,” Qureshi said in response to a question.
“Afghanistan is our brotherly and friendly country. Some quarters want to unnecessarily raise this issue, which is not in Pakistan’s interest,” he went on to say, reiterating that the dispute is being handled through diplomatic channels.
Pakistan, which shares a border of almost 2,670 kilometers (1,640 miles) with Afghanistan, began the fencing in 2017 to block militant infiltration, smuggling and other illegal crossings.
According to the government, more than 90% of the work has been completed.
Pakistan and landlocked Afghanistan share 18 crossing points, with the busiest ones being the northwestern Torkham and Chaman border posts.
Afghanistan does not recognize the Durand Line – the de facto border region between the two countries – on the grounds that it was created by a British colonial regime “to divide ethnic Pashtuns.”
The border was established in 1893 in line with an agreement between India under British colonial rule and Abdur Rahman Khan, the then-ruler of Afghanistan.
Islamabad, however, insists the Durand Line is a permanent border between the neighbors.
In US-China tiff, Pakistan will not join any camp
To a query about Pakistan’s stance amid rising tensions between the US and China, Qureshi asserted that Islamabad will not become part of any “camp.”
Instead, he added, Pakistan will play a reconciliatory role to mitigate the tensions as it did in the 1960s.
“The US knows the nature of our relationship with China. It’s not a zero-sum game,” he maintained.