Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed June 20 to peacefully resolve a border dispute after clashes and a tense stand-off over Islamabad's plan to build a barbed-wire separation barrier at its Torkham border crossing. Fighting broke out on June 12, leading to fatalities on both sides—including two children on the Afghan side of the line. The crossing, in Pakistan's Khyber Agency, was re-opened afrter both sides agreed to de-escalate following a high-level meeting in Islamabad. Tensions began in April, when Pakistani authorities demolished the homes of some 300 Afghan families living in Torkham to clear way for the "gate," as the barrier is being called. The houses were bulldozed after a number of Afghan nationals refused to comply with a four-day deadline to vacate the area and cross into Afghanistan. The families protested that they had legal residency, and that the expulsions were being carried out improperly.
Tensions between the two countries were also enflamed when Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Mansour was killed by a US drone strike in Pakistani territory May 23. The new tensions touched off renewed Afghan claims to territory across the Durand Line, drawn by the British in 1893 and now forming the border with Pakistan. No Afghan government since the partition of British India in 1947 has accepted the Durand Line as the international border. While both sides have agreed to talks on the outstanding issues, Afghanistan has not ceded its claim to Pashtun territory across the line, and Pakistan says it will not compromise on building the security barrier. (The Diplomat, June 21; Al Jazeera, IANS, June 20; Dunya News, June 19; Pakistan Express-Tribune, April 12)