In the brash combative style of US-led Nato forces, Afghan security forces carried out a raid – their first cross-border incursion – in a border district of Balochistan, officials said on Saturday.
“Driving in two vehicles, Afghan security personnel intruded over a mile into Pakistani territory in Qilla Saifullah district and kidnapped two Pakistani nationals before shooting them,” a senior official of the Balochistan government told The Express Tribune.
According to residents, Afghan security personnel raided the house of a tribal chieftain, Sadullah Kakar, in the Badini area, suspecting him of harbouring Taliban insurgents. They seized two men – identified as Abdullah and Muhammad Sarwar Shabozai – and whisked them away into Afghanistan. Later they shot them dead and refused to return the bodies to their relatives.
Relatives put the number of victims at three, identifying the third as Din Muhammad. However, officials could confirm only two deaths.
The Balochistan government took serious notice of this blatant violation of the Pakistani border by Afghan security forces. “We have summoned the Quetta-based Afghan consul general through the foreign ministry to protest the incident,” Home Secretary Nasebullah Bazai told The Express Tribune.
He said the provincial authorities would seek an explanation from the Afghan diplomat for the incursion into Pakistani territory by Afghan security forces. “We will also ask them to hand over the bodies and provide details of the incident,” he added.
In November 2011, Nato helicopter gunships bombed Pakistani border posts in Mohmand Agency, killing two dozen border guards and sparking fissures in Pakistan-US relations.
Afghan officials routinely blame Pakistan for its clandestine support of Taliban militants who have been fighting a deadly insurgency in Afghanistan. These accusations grew shriller in September 2011 when fingers were pointed at the Quetta Shura – the top Taliban leadership council – for plotting and executing the assassination of top Afghan peace negotiator Burhanuddin Rabbani. Islamabad denies the existence of Quetta Shura.
The frosty relations between the two countries started thawing following a US move to bypass Pakistan and Afghanistan and engage the Taliban in direct talks in the Arab Gulf state of Qatar. However, the incursion will cast a shadow over the ties between the two countries.
Interestingly, the incident happened the same day the Afghan army chief ruled out cross-border “hot pursuits” of “terrorists hiding out in their havens in Pakistan.”
In an interview with Pajhwok Afghan News, Afghan National Army Chief of General Staff Gen Sher Mohammad Karimi said that it would be illegal and against international norms to cross the border into the neighbouring country while chasing insurgents. Instead, he urged Islamabad to ensure that there were no sanctuaries for militants on its territory.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 12th, 2012.