Pakistan-Afghanistan Authorities Agree on Ceasefire Following Clashes at Kharlachi Border

The Pakistani and Afghan authorities have agreed to a ceasefire following intense clashes at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border in the Kurram district. The agreement came after a “grand jirga” of elders from both nations convened at the Kharlachi border crossing, emphasizing the traditional role of jirgas in conflict resolution within the region.

The ceasefire marks a pause in the hostilities that have led to casualties and heightened tensions between the neighboring countries. The jirga, attended by senior officials from both sides, underscores the mutual desire for peace and stability in the border regions.

The local elders suggested a three-point agenda to improve relations: opening Kharlachi Gate for traffic, holding another jirga within three days, and forming committees to address trade and other issues.

Brigadier Shehzad Azim, leading the Pakistani delegation, emphasized Pakistan’s intent to complete border post work without resistance, despite repeated attacks from the Afghan side.

Afghan representatives urged Pakistan to engage in talks with the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP), highlighting it as a major tension point between the two countries. Both sides have shown a commitment to continue discussions to resolve border disputes, cross-border shelling, and trade-related issues, marking a step towards better bilateral relations.

Over the last few days, the region of Kurram had been witnessing escalating tensions and clashes along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. The situation had led to significant displacement of local residents seeking safety away from the conflict zones. The Kharlachi border crossing, a crucial point for cross-border trade, remained closed following the exchange of fire between Pakistani and Afghan forces.

The clashes had not only affected the local communities but also raised broader regional implications, potentially straining the already tense relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The Foreign Office of Pakistan had expressed its deepest concerns to Kabul regarding the ongoing situation. Sporadic clashes that began earlier in the week have intensified, with fears of more casualties as forces on both sides continued to engage.

The Foreign Office spokesperson, Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, addressed the situation with the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), stating that Islamabad had no plans to undertake talks with a terrorist group that continued to threaten Pakistan’s security and had been involved in the killings of Pakistani civilians and law enforcement officials.

The closure of the Kharlachi border crossing had disrupted the flow of trade and caused significant delays in the transportation of goods. The clashes had not only affected the local communities but also have broader implications for the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The suspension of cross-border trade along the Kharlachi-Borraki route had disrupted businesses and caused significant shipping delays.

However, Pakistan has expressed serious concerns to Afghanistan about recent border conflicts and emphasizes the importance of collaboration with Afghanistan's current leadership to maintain tranquility along the western boundary.

Pakistan firmly views the Durand Line as the definitive border, a stance it considers unchangeable. The challenge of cross-border terrorism adds complexity; despite the Taliban's denial of militant presence in Afghanistan, it is their duty to secure the border and prevent threats to Pakistan. Despite seeming indifference from Kabul, Pakistan should persist in diplomatic efforts to convey its security concerns.

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