Pakistan welcomes US offer to prevent cross-border attacks from Afghanistan

Top US military commander says offer aimed at discouraging Pakistan Army from shooting at Afghan civilians


News Desk November 22, 2017
A file photo of the Pak-Afghan border. PHOTO: AFP

Islamabad has welcomed a US military offer to take action against militants involved in launching cross-border attacks at the Pakistani security check posts alongside the Pak-Afghan border.

According to the Voice of America, officials in Islamabad say the move “augurs well” for regional counter-terrorism cooperation.

The top US military commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson, on Monday, said his offer was meant to discourage the Pakistan Army from shooting at civilians across the border while responding to cross-border raids by militants from the Afghan soil.

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“We have also offered if they [Pakistan] have a concern about anything on this side of the Durand Line to let us know and we will act against it so that it is not necessary for cross-border shelling to occur,” the US general said.

Security forces, last week, allegedly fired hundreds of rounds of mortar shells for several days into the Afghan border province of Kunar, forcing the villagers to flee their homes in harsh winter weather, the VOA quoted Afghan officials as saying.

The cross-border firing was provoked by repeated militant attacks that claimed the lives of several border security personnel and wounded many more, said officials in Pakistan.

Responding to Gen Nicholson’s remarks, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Major General Asif Ghafoor said Pakistan has always offered and sought cooperation to strengthen border security.

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“Unilaterally Pakistan, having cleared all areas on Pakistan side, has restored writ if [the] state, including steps like enhancing [troop] presence along the border [with Afghanistan], establishing new forts and posts, and has also started to fence the border to deny freedom of movement to illegal crossers and terrorists,” the military spokesperson explained.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Senate Standing Committee on Defence, Mushahid Hussain Syed said the US general’s remarks are an acknowledgement of Islamabad’s “valid and justifiable” concerns regarding security management of the Pak-Afghan border.

“The US promise, at long last, to address these core concerns augurs well not just for Pakistan-Afghanistan border management but also for Pakistan-US counter-terror cooperation,” the senator said.

Pakistan believes anti-state fugitive militants linked to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban are using sanctuaries in Afghan border areas for plotting cross-border terrorist attacks, taking advantage of the nearly 2,600 kilometer, largely porous border between the two countries.

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The Afghan government has for years alleged leaders of the Taliban are sheltering and using havens on Pakistani soil to sustain and expand insurgent activities in Afghanistan. US officials back those allegations.

Islamabad vehemently denies the accusations, saying its counterterrorism operations have uprooted all terrorist infrastructures in the country, allowing the security forces to strengthen border security.

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