| Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali. (Reuters)
Kabul/Islamabad, July 15 (Reuters): Afghanistan and Pakistan agreed today to send investigators to their border to try to end a row over alleged Pakistani incursions, while the US urged them to patch up their differences.
In the Afghan capital, about 200 Afghans protested against the alleged border intrusions by Pakistan, while Pakistan’s Prime Minister said he was saddened by the deterioration in relations between the neighbours.
The peaceful protest in Kabul came a day after Afghanistan said Pakistani troops crossed up to 600 metres into the eastern part of the country, an area where soldiers from both sides have clashed in recent weeks.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mir Zafarullah Khan Jamali denied any incursions had taken place.
“What would we gain by entering 600 metres' We are not in an athletics race, are we' It doesn’t make any sense,” he said in Islamabad.
Afghanistan and Pakistan have long had disagreements over their porous border, but recent intermittent clashes and accusations of intrusions have seriously strained relations.
Protests have erupted in Afghanistan and a mob attacked the Pakistani embassy last week.
A meeting in Kabul between Afghan, Pakistani and US security officials ended with an agreement to send a three-party team to the border to investigate the reported incursions.
“The sub-committee will carry out ground verifications within a week to address each other’s concerns and submit its findings as soon as possible,” the countries said in a statement.
Afghanistan’s latest allegations came during a brief operation by US-led forces on Afghan soil, and by Pakistani troops on their side of the border, to prevent movement of ousted Taliban fighters and their al Qaida allies.
The US government’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad, said Washington wanted to see cooperation between the neighbours, both of which back the US-led war on terror.
”On the part of Pakistan, every effort has to be made by the government of Pakistan not to allow its territory to be used by forces, such as the Taliban,” he told reporters in Kabul.
Afghan officials complain that Taliban fighters plot attacks from the safety of Pakistan's lawless border areas. Pakistan says it does all it can do to stop militants crossing.
Khalilzad said some countries might try to take advantage of the neighbours' strained ties.
”There are some countries, forces Ä I'm not going to name anyone Ä who may seek to create a problem within Afghanistan, Pakistan, take advantage of it. Afghans have to be very careful about that,” he said. He did not elaborate.
Pakistan's Jamali said his government was trying to help Afghanistan rebuild, and blamed a“third party” for souring relations and provoking the embassy attack.
Jamali said he could not rule out Indian involvement in the embassy attack, and complained that its arch foe was trying to extend its influence in Afghanistan at Pakistan's expense.