Burning Pakistan flag condemnable act, says Zakhilwal
KABUL/KANDAHAR (Pajhwok): Afghanistan ambassador to Pakistan Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal on Tuesday said Whoever burnt the flag was certainly representing neither the government nor the people of Afghanistan.’
While Afghan officials hoped Pakistan was expected to reopen the border between the two countries on Wednesday.
Pakistani border guards closed the border between Kandahar and Balochistan provinces a few days ago after some protesting Afghans set afire a Pakistani flag.
The border remained closed for a sixth day on Tuesday and Afghan traders claim incurring a loss amounting to 60 million afghanis. The border closure has left stranded thousands of trucks carrying fresh fruits and food and non-food items on both the sides.
“No matter what their reasons for burning the flag, it was a condemnable act. We the Afghan government neither believe nor condone this type of disrespect towards the people of Pakistan - in fact, to the very contrary.,” Zakhilwal said in a statement.
Afghan officials on Tuesday said talks were ongoing with Pakistani officials and it was expected the border would be reopened on Wednesday.
The spokesman for the governor of southern Kandahar province, Samim Khpalwak, told Pajhwok Afghan News talks took place on Tuesday between local officials and the Pakistani consul general in Kandahar.
At the central level, Khpalwak said, officials of the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs also discussed the issue with Pakistani officials. He hoped the talks would yield positive outcome and the border might be reopened tomorrow.
Zakhilwal, also special representative of President Ashraf Ghani in Pakistan, acknowledged there were certainly grievances between the two counties.
“However, we the Afghan government neither believe nor condone this type of disrespect towards the people of Pakistan - in fact, to the very contrary.”
Zakhilwal said the Friendship Gate was closed after some individuals disrespected and burnt Pakistani flag, causing enormous difficulties to people on both sides. He said traders whose goods, mostly fresh fruit had been stuck at the gate suffered considerable losses.
The traders in Kandahar said the volume of losses they incurred so far had reached 60 million afghanis. Fresh fruit traders’ union head in Kandahar Haji Nani Agha said the border remained closed for a sixth day in a row on Tuesday and no export or import activity or cross border movement of people had taken place during the period.
He said before closure of the border, from 100 to 150 tonnes of grapes loaded in trucks would enter Pakistan from Afghanistan on a daily basis.
The border closure has not only brought to a halt the fruit export to Pakistan but also rendered thousands of orchard and transport workers jobless, Agha said.
He said it was feared the bulk of grapes in orchards could decay. He said officials had assured them that the gate could be reopened until Wednesday. Agha also said the border closure caused 50 percent loss to Afghan traders and 80 percent to Pakistani traders.
Similarly thousands of people who want to cross the border into Pakistan for medical treatment, jobs, business and other needs have been in great trouble.They have asked government officials to intensify their efforts at reopening the border.
The issue was discussed at a meeting on Tuesday at the Kandahar governor’s house. Deputy governor Abdul Ali Shamsi presided over the meeting.
Kandahar foreign affairs director Shah Ahmad Saeed told the meeting that Pakistan was looking for excuses to keep the border gate closed.
He said on August 18 when the Afghans were celebrating the country’s 97th Independence Day, some Pakistanis burnt a portrait of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Afghanistan flag in the zero point area of the border.
In reaction, he said, some residents of the Spin Boldak district burnt the Pakistani flag, prompting the neighbouring country to close the border.
At that time, Saeed said, civilian officials in Pakistan were contacted, but they said they could not help. Later military officials in Pakistan were approached, but they presented various excuses, he said.
He said the Pakistani side was of the view that they would condemn the incident that took place on their side and the Afghan government would condemn what happened on their side.
The Pakistani side also said Afghanistan should guarantee that such incident would not recur in future, according to Saeed, who claimed Pakistan had other conditions as well, but the Afghan side did not agree with them.
He said all the matters had been shared with the Foreign Ministry and the Afghan ambassador in Pakistan.
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