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Analyzing Pak-Afghan Cross Border Firing

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Afghanistan is a familiar basket case for Pakistan.  The more you try to remove from this swamp, the more you go down in it.  The US-led NATO occupation led to negative security implications for Pakistan with which we are still dealing that another event going to emerge. The foreign powers and neighboring countries have in fact tried to resolve these problems. Yet some Afghan circles accuse Pakistan of meddling in the country’s internal affairs and further intensifying the humanitarian crisis. Contrarily, Pakistan disengaged itself from Afghanistan’s domestic issues and provided shelter to more than 3 million Afghan refugees. It has also provided economic and educational assistance. While Pakistan itself has suffered because of the Afghan war due to the proliferation of drugs and weapons as well as a surge in extremism and sectarian violence.

As per ISPR, “on 11 December 22, Afghan Border Forces opened unprovoked and indiscriminate fire of heavy weapons including artillery/ mortar onto the Civilian population in Chaman, Baluchistan causing Shahadat of 6 x Civilians with another 17 x individuals being injured. Pakistani border troops have given a befitting albeit measured response against the uncalled-for aggression but avoided targeting innocent Civilians in the area. Pakistan has also approached Afghan authorities in Kabul to highlight the severity of the situation and demanded strict action to obviate any such recurrence of the incident in the future”. Pakistan, military wing ISPR said that “Pakistani border troops have given befitting albeit measured response against the uncalled for aggression but avoided targeting innocent civilians in the area”.

The Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has claimed responsibility for the massacre. The group’s leaders and commanders, supporters of the Afghan Taliban, have mostly sought safety in Afghanistan. If the TTP claims credit for terrorist acts in Pakistan, the Afghan government should be concerned since their territory is being utilized for terrorism. Pakistan’s efforts to persuade the Afghan Taliban to do more against the TTP do not appear to have yielded the expected effects.

The Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif said” Provocation was started by Afghanistan. Our forces were repairing the border fence when they were attacked by the Taliban forces. In first round of firing, there were no casualties but in second round, they used heavy artillery and mortars which resulted in the civilian deaths”.

In a tweet on 12 December, Abdul Qahar Balkhi, spokesman for Afghanistan’s foreign ministry, said the repetition of such incidents would be regrettable.

Recent changes in the relationship between the Taliban and India have been constructive. Both sides have had discussions and visits. There is the prospect of strong and cordial connections between the Afghan government and India, but how they are held is the reason for concern for Pakistan because India has been pursuing every available political option to destabilize Pakistan and establish itself as a regional hegemon. Given India’s existing presence on our western border, these connections would have long-term implications for Pakistan’s security and foreign policy objectives. Pakistan has been sheltering Afghan refugees for the past four decades. It has one of the oldest and largest refugee caseloads in history. Pakistan may take advantage of this approachable caseload and convert them into eager volunteer goodwill ambassadors for Pakistan in Afghanistan. Pakistan would gain from this arrangement and will be able to diversify its contacts with Afghanistan. The only goal is to create an enabling atmosphere for these two neighbors. Pakistan must reshuffle its cards and interact constructively with diverse parties in Afghanistan, both at the governmental and societal levels. It must not be restricted to a single ethnic or ideological group.

 

Author: Tahama Asad is a graduate of the National Defense University

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