Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan were further strained this week over what Kabul described as the “Pakistani military’s unilateral construction and physical reinforcement activities along the Durand Line”, close to Goshta district in the Afghan province of Nangarhar.

In response, Pakistan on Tuesday said routine renovation was being carried out at an old post called “Gursal”, well inside its territory. On Monday, Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Ludin had expressed concern about the construction to Pakistan’s Ambassador to Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq.

According to a Pakistan Foreign Office statement, the recently signed Tripartite Border Coordination Mechanism mandated that both sides inform the other of any new construction close to the border areas. “Despite being a renovation work, Pakistan, as a gesture of goodwill, shared this information with the Afghan side. The same was also shared with the Afghan visiting delegation to Mohmand agency on January 24.”

Interdicting terrorists

Islamabad also maintained that the post was being renovated to “interdict terrorists and criminals”, and better manage the border area. Mr. Ludin’s concerns “are therefore not in keeping with the spirit of the understanding on good border management and the recently signed Tripartite Border SOP [Standard Operating Practice]”.

Islamabad further suggested that Kabil take similar measures on its side to have an effective check over terrorists and criminals who cross the border with ease. The Foreign Office also sought to address Afghan concerns regarding rocket and artillery attacks inside Kunar province. Islamabad reiterated its last week’s statement that no rocket or artillery shells had been fired by the Pakistan Army in recent days.

While responding to Mr. Ludin’s statement, Pakistan maintained that it remained committed to the Afghan peace process and would extend all possible support for reconciliation and stability in Afghanistan. Relations have begun souring again after a brief bonhomie even as the reconciliation process has made little visible headway.