ISLAMABAD - The government yesterday took a firm stance in the Senate that it would make no compromise on effective border management along the Pak-Afghan border, as this had become indispensable for the country’s security.

“We want effective border management with Afghanistan at all cost and will not comprise on it as this is necessary for the national security,” said Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif in the upper house.

He reminded that Pakistan had handed over the check post of Angoor Adda to Afghanistan as a goodwill gesture and was ready to continue such gestures for other places. “Afghanistan wants there should be no gate or built-up crossing at the zero line of the border,” he said.

The minister said the problem had a historical background as the Pak-Afghan border was being used frequently for decades without checking of any travelling documents.

“Pakistan had to pay a heavy price because of this border during the last three to four decades,” he said, adding the presence of three million Afghan refugees in Pakistan had left serious consequences on the country’s economy, infrastructure and social life.

“Neither the world nor Afghanistan accepted Pakistan’s sacrifices for hosting three million Afghan refugees. Had they not been here, Pakistan would not have faced allegations of hosting Quetta Shura and supporting Haqqani Network,” the minister said. He said Pakistan had a complaint that the leadership of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) living in Afghanistan had backing from there and its terrorists involved in the Army Pubic School attack were also hiding there.

The important part of operation Zarb-e-Azb which has been in progress for two years was an effective border management along the Pak-Afghan border and loose arrangements could not be left along this side of border, he said. “Both the sides have complaints against each other as Pakistan says terrorists are infiltrating from the other side and vice versa. It is the border management that can end these complaints,” he said and admitted that atmosphere had been tense for the last some weeks.

The defence minister said there were 78 notified crossings along the Pak-Afghan border, adding 16 were major crossings of which nine had been closed.

He said Afghan security forces resorted to unprovoked firing at four different times from June 12 to June 14, but now Kabul had agreed to resolve the issue through deliberations.

The PML-N parliamentary leader in the Senate, Mushahidullah Khan, taking part in the budget debate, came down hard on PPP leadership for calling the federal budget as budget of Punjab. His speech focused on criticism of PPP and PTI, saying the Sharif family was innocent and that the PM’s name was not in the Panama leaks. He said former military ruler Pervez Musharraf had properties in Dubai, London and the US. He questioned who had gifted a house worth Rs 6 billion to PPP leader Asif Ali Zardari in Lahore. He also mentioned the video of Dr Asim Hussain in which he had levelled allegations of corruption against the PPP leadership. PPP Senator Dr Babar Awan said Mushahidullah did not mention the video of Rana Mashhood, the PML-N provincial minister, who was facing corruption charges.

Separately, the joint opposition in the Senate staged a token walkout in protest against the continuous absence of Finance Minister Ishaq Dar in the house during the budget debate. “We are staging a token walkout against the continuous absence of the finance minister during the budget debate,” said Leader of Opposition Aitzaz Ahsan. Dr Babar Awan also pointed out the absence of the finance minister and alleged he was exercising the powers of the prime minister and the National Assembly speaker. Dar exercised the speaker’s powers illegally when he declared a bill as money bill, adding only the speaker could do so.

The house also passed three bills – Foreign Exchange Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2016, the Corporate Restructuring Companies Bill, 2016, and Financial Institutions (Secured Transactions) Bill, 2016.