Pakistan

Pakistan, Afghanistan increase troops deployment across Torkham

torkham

PESHAWAR: A Pakistani army officer, Major Jawad Ali Changezi, died on Tuesday after being shot by Afghan forces in a border clash, Pakistan’s military said a development likely to ratchet up tension between the neighbours who sources said were beefing up troop numbers on either side.

The main gates at Torkham, the most frequented official border crossing at the end of the Khyber Pass, stayed closed for a third day, leaving thousands stranded on either side.

Firing between Pakistani and Afghan forces first broke out on Sunday at the crossing, about 45 km (28 miles) west of Peshawar, over the construction of a new border post on the Pakistani side.

The Army Chief General Raheel Sharif also attended funeral prayers on Tuesday for Major Changezi, who was among nine Pakistani and six Afghan troops wounded in the fighting, security officials said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office and the Pakistani military’s press wing also confirmed Changezi’s death.

One Afghan soldier was killed, Afghan officials had claimed on Monday.

Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been strained for months. Kabul alleges Pakistan harbours militants seeking to overthrow the Afghan government, among them the Haqqani network and the leadership of the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan denies it supports militants and says it is building the gate to stop militants from crossing the border.

“This gate (is) considered essential to check and verify documentation of all border crossers,” Asim Bajwa, chief spokesman for the Pakistani military, said on social media website Twitter on Monday.

Afghanistan summoned the Pakistani ambassador on Tuesday to register its protest at the violence, Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said. Pakistan had also summoned the Afghan charge d’affaires in Islamabad on Monday, the Pakistani foreign office said.

The Pakistan-Afghanistan border has long been porous and disputed. Afghanistan has blocked repeated attempts by Pakistan to build a fence on sections of the roughly 2,200-km-long frontier, rejecting the contours of the boundary.

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