Nawaz Sharif orders immediate reopening of border with Afghanistan

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Boosting Pak-US relations

Pakistan's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered the country's two main border crossings with Afghanistan to reopen immediately.

In a statement Monday, Sharif said his government had taken the "goodwill gesture" keeping in view the better interests of both countries.

The busy border was closed last month for an indefinite period following a string of deadly militant attacks for which Pakistan accused terrorists hiding in Afghanistan. Afghanistan has also sent Pakistan the location of 23 suspected insurgent training camps it says are operating on its territory.

The UK has quietly hosted a meeting of top officials from Pakistan and Afghanistan where they discussed ways to ease tensions between two countries after a series of terror attacks in Pakistan, according to a media report.

" The statement said "it has been made a decision to re-open the border as a good-will gesture with immediate effect, with the hope that the Government of Afghanistan would take the necessary steps, required to address the reasons, that led to closure of the border".

He said recent incidents of terrorism in Pakistan have been traced back to anti-Pakistan elements in Afghanistan.

Earlier this month, Pakistan opened the crossings at Torkham and Chaman for two days amid rising concerns that continued closure could develop into a humanitarian crisis.

However, the crossing points may only reopen permanently once Afghanistan has placed "proper" checking and verification mechanisms, Pakistan's foreign ministry spokesman Nafees Zakaria said last week. The government said armed groups who operate from the Afghan side of the border had claimed responsibility for the attacks.

They have now been closed for about two weeks, without adequate reasons, causing enormous hardship to ordinary people and a lot of damage to traders on both sides, Zakhilwal continued.

The newly-built Pakistan Gate on the Torkham Border was opened in August previous year, to both traffic and pedestrians, albeit without a formal ceremony.

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