Afghanistan’s ambassador to Pakistan appears to have threatened to resign if relations are not improved between the two neighbors.
“I don’t see any reason for me to continue my current job” unless Pakistan suspended its construction of new installations at the busiest border crossing between the two countries, Dr. Omar Zakhilwal said.
He made the comments in a Facebook post published on his verified account on Thursday.
When asked to clarify the statement, the diplomat told CNN by telephone “I’m not going into the details of that any further than what I said there.”
On Sunday, long-simmering tensions between the two neighbors exploded into deadly violence at the Torkham border gate.
According to the Afghan and Pakistani governments, at least one Afghan border police officer and one Pakistani army major were killed in two days of clashes. At least 23 people were also wounded in fighting that involved heavy machine guns.
Since then, Torkham has remained closed, with lines of trucks now backed up and waiting on both sides of the Khyber Pass, a famous mountainous transit route linking the two countries.
The apparent flashpoint for the latest round of tension has involved Pakistan’s construction of a new border terminal.
“You cannot check documents of thousands of travelers without extensive infrastructure. The gate in Torkham is being built well inside Pakistan territory,” Pakistan’s foreign ministry announced in a statement earlier this week.
Afghanistan’s ambassador in Islamabad insisted that construction on the border had to be agreed upon in advance by both governments.
“What I would want is for the construction work to be paused, allowing negotiations to be conducted,” he said, speaking to CNN by telephone.
The Afghan government has long accused Pakistan of providing safe haven to Taliban militants. The Taliban has been fighting a 14-year insurgency against the Western-backed government in Pakistan.
Pakistan argues that it too suffers from violent attacks by Taliban fighters.