QUETTA, Pakistan (AP) — Pakistan and Afghanistan started a joint survey agreed on following last week’s deadly clashes along the two countries’ disputed boundary in Pakistan’s southwest, officials said Monday.
The two sides agreed to conduct a geological survey of the border villages to “remove discrepancies.”
Pakistan has said that Afghan forces fired on Pakistani census workers and troops escorting them, killing two soldiers and nine civilians on Friday. Islamabad also claimed 50 Afghan troops were killed in retaliatory action, a claim Kabul denies, saying only two border policemen and a civilian were killed.
Kashif Nabi, a local administrator in Pakistan’s Baluchistan province said the surveyor teams, which included military officers, arrived in the border villages on Monday and were working “amicably.” He said the situation is calm but that the border crossing in the area remains closed.
Sartaj Aziz, the foreign affairs adviser to Pakistani prime minister, told reporters neither side wants “any violence between our two countries or any loss of life.”
He said diplomacy must overcome the “misunderstandings and restore trust,” though he reiterated Islamabad claims that Afghanistan fired first.
Aziz said the two sides also agreed to look at the demarcation line in the area.
“I hope in the next couple of days the issue will be resolved through meetings between local commanders as well as at the high level commanders,” he added.
Afghanistan refuses to recognize the so-called Durand Line, established more than a century ago when the British Empire controlled much of South Asia, as the international border. The line runs through the traditional homeland of the Pashtun ethnic group, which dominates Afghanistan and the border provinces of Pakistan.