Kabul summons Pakistan’s envoy over ‘cross-border shelling’

Afghan minister accuses Pakistani troops of firing rockets into Nangarhar, other eastern provinces

Tahir Khan February 18, 2017
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. PHOTO: FILE

KABUL: Afghanistan on Saturday summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to lodge a protest over what it termed “cross-border shelling by Pakistani forces”. Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Karzai summoned envoy Abrar Hussain to “formally register protest over the firing of rockets by Pakistani troops”, according to a statement issued by Afghanistan’s foreign ministry.

The move came a day after Pakistani military decimated camps and training compounds of the Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA) terrorist group, including the one run by the group’s deputy chief Adil Bacha, in areas ‘opposite Mohmand and Khyber tribal agencies’, sources said. The group, which is behind the recent upsurge in terrorist violence, has set up sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

Army decimates four Jamaatul Ahrar camps

Hekmat Karzai accused that Pakistani forces fired rockets into the Lal Pur area of eastern Nangarhar province and some other areas late Friday. “The shelling has resulted in the displacement of people in cold weather,” he claimed.

Earlier on Friday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif authorised Pakistani forces and law enforcement agencies to eliminate terrorists “wherever they may be – whether inside [Pakistan] or coming from the outside.” Meanwhile, army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa told the top US commander in Afghanistan that Kabul’s inaction against terrorists operating from safe havens in the country is ‘testing Islamabad’s policy of cross-border restraint’.

The Afghan minister also conveyed Kabul’s “concerns at the closure of the Torkham gate and the arrest of 150 Afghan refugees in Islamabad and Torkham”. Following the gruesome suicide bombing at the shrine of Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Sehwan, which has claimed as many as 88 lives, Pakistani authorities closed the border with Afghanistan indefinitely.

Karzai, meanwhile, extended condolences over the deaths in Sehwan, saying “Afghanistan feels the pain of such acts as it [too] is the victim of terrorism.”

Pakistan shuts down border with Afghanistan

Earlier on Saturday, Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar said after speaking to Prime Minister Nawaz’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, Kabul and Islamabad have agreed to discuss ways to better respond to terror attacks on both sides. The two advisers spoke a day after the Sehwan bombing.

“Afghanistan is ready to collaborate with Pakistan and other international partners to achieve the goal [of eradicating terrorism],” Atmar said. On his Twitter feed, he pointed that both the countries faced a ‘common enemy’.

“We must find and execute effective strategies to eliminate terrorist sanctuaries wherever they exist and without any distinctions,” he said. “There should be no distinction between terrorist groups who themselves show no distinction between countries or peoples and no regard for human rights.”

Following the phone call, Pakistan’s Foreign Office said Sartaj expressed serious concern that the JuA continued to “operate from its sanctuaries and safe havens in Afghanistan for undertaking terrorism in Pakistan.”