ISLAMABAD/KHYBER AGENCY - Army Chief General Raheel Sharif and Commander Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan (CRSMA) General John Nicholson discussed the Pak-Afghan border mechanism in a meeting at GHQ on Saturday, after reopening of a major border crossing earlier the same day.

“During the meeting (between COAS and US commander), regional security issues and matters of mutual interest, including border management mechanism along Pakistan, Afghanistan border were discussed,” Inter Services Public Relations said in a statement.

Torkham border was closed for several days following deadly clashes between border guards of Pakistan and Afghanistan after the construction of a gate on the Pakistani side to control cross-border movement.

The clash, which erupted a week ago, left at least three Afghan policemen and a Pakistani military officer dead, with dozens wounded.

The border reopened at 6am after five days of closure and construction work on the gate resumed, officials in Islamabad said. Only people having required travelling documents are being allowed to cross into Pakistan, they said.

Passport Tehsildar at Torkham, Ghuncha Gul also confirmed reopening of the border. He told The Nation the fighting broke out when Pakistan side started installing a border gate to the resentment of Afghans, who resorted to unprovoked firing at the Pakistani guards.

Besides the causalities, government buildings on both sides of the border were also damaged in the armed battle, he said. Extra security arrangements have been adopted on the border to tackle any untoward situation, Gul said.

After reopening of border, hundreds of Afghanistan bound loaded trailers that remained stranded for days had started crossing into Afghanistan after clearance.

Local tribal families that had fled to the bordering areas of Bacha Mena and Pased Khel after shelling by the Afghans on Pakistani localities were also returning home, locals said.

Afghan National Security Council spokesperson Tawab Ghorzang on Saturday, confirmed Kabul government decided to send a delegation under Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai.

The Afghan delegation led by Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai would visit Islamabad on Monday to discuss the issues pertaining to Torkham border crossing and border management, Foreign Office said Saturday.

“Pakistan welcomes the visit and looks forward to meaningful deliberations through a constructive engagement between the two sides with a view to promote bilateral relations as well as peace and stability of our two countries, and the region,” it said.

A few days ago CRSMA commander General Nicholson, along with US Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Ambassador Richard Olson, met with Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, who called for targeting the TTP chief Fazaullah, averring that TTP militants are backed by belligerent intelligence agencies from neighboring countries to foment militancy in Pakistan.

“There is a hardening of positions in both sides. Kabul tried to reach out to Pakistan soon after President Ghani came to power, but that policy backfired and Ghani suffered politically, and so he is no longer in a position to adopt conciliatory approach once again,” Said Michael Kugelman, senior associate for South and Southeast Asia at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a US think tank.

“Additionally, Kabul believes Islamabad either refused or was unable to bring the Afghan Taliban to the peace table. And then there is always the view in Kabul that Pakistan drives the insurgency in Afghanistan by providing sanctuary to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network,” Kugelman told The Nation.

“Pakistan believes that several recent major terror attacks on its soil were carried out by Afghanistan-based terrorists that Kabul has refused to go after. In essence, preexisting and new tensions in a perpetually troubled relationship have contributed to these recent border skirmishes,” he added.