Pakistan FM concedes discord exists with IEA over border fence

Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on Monday Islamabad would continue fencing the border with Afghanistan while hoping that contentious issues would be resolved with the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) authorities through diplomatic channels.

Addressing a press conference on Monday, Qureshi said: “We have erected the fence and we will continue to fence the border.”

Dawn News reported that there have been reports of IEA forces trying to prevent workers from erecting fences.

It was the first time for the foreign minister to publicly acknowledge the differences with the IEA over the border fence.

Pakistan started fencing the 2,600-km-long porous border with Afghanistan in the summer of 2017. The Ashraf Ghani government also remained opposed to fencing and on multiple occasions, the issue led to deadly military clashes between the two sides.

Afghans oppose border fence primarily because they do not accept the Durand Line separating Pakistan and Afghanistan as the international border.

The IEA has, meanwhile, publicly maintained an anti-fencing stance, saying it divides the Pashtuns living on both sides of the border.

Foreign Minister Qureshi said the matter was being pursued with the IEA. “We are not silent. … We will resolve these irritants through diplomatic means,” he said.