Border shut after Afghans burn Pakistani flag

Islamabad, Aug 20 (IANS) Pakistan has closed its border with Afghanistan indefinitely after a group of Afghan demonstrators attacked the Bab-e-Dosti gate at Chaman and set the Pakistani flag on fire.

The incident that took place on Thursday evening has resulted in suspension in the movement of trucks involved in trade shipments between the two countries and carrying supplies for NATO forces in Afghanistan, Dawn online reported on Saturday.

According to sources, a large number of Afghan nationals, celebrating the 97th anniversary of their country’s independence, gathered near the Friendship Gate after marching through the streets of Spin Boldak town across the border.

They carried placards and banners inscribed with anti-Pakistan slogans.

Shouting slogans against Pakistan, the Afghan demonstrators started pelting stones at the gate.

Exercising restraint, the personnel of Frontier Corps avoided taking any action against the protesters who swarmed the gate after seeing Pakistanis who staged a protest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks about Balochistan.

The Afghan demonstrators snatched the national flag from a Pakistani protester who stood close to the gate and set it on fire.

They also tried to force their entry through the gate which had already been closed because of the Afghans’ rally.

“The border with Afghanistan will remain closed for an indefinite period,” security officials said on Friday, adding: “We will not open the gate until orders to do so are received from the high command.”

Every day between 10,000 and 15,000 Pakistani and Afghan traders cross into Chaman in Balochistan and Vesh Mandi in Kandhar province of Afghanistan.

“Not a single trader crossed the border from either side because of the closure of the Friendship Gate,” Niamat¬≠ullah, a resident of Chaman, said.

According to the sources, security has been heightened at the border after the incident.

The latest incident in Chaman comes after tension intensified between the two countries following the construction of a gate at the Torkham border.

Clashes had erupted among the Afghan and Pakistani forces after Kabul condemned the move by Islamabad to construct the gate, calling it a unilateral act and against a bilateral agreement on border related issues.

Firing between the Afghan and Pakistani forces left a Pakistan major dead and injured several others from both the sides. Construction of the gate was completed in August.

–IANS

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