Border clashes threaten Pak-Afghan thaw

Published: April 16, 2018
Sealing frontier: A Pakistani soldier keeps vigil at the border fencing along with Afghanistan's Paktika province in Angoor Adda, South Waziristan agency. PHOTO:AFP

Sealing frontier: A Pakistani soldier keeps vigil at the border fencing along with Afghanistan's Paktika province in Angoor Adda, South Waziristan agency. PHOTO:AFP

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan began efforts to defuse tensions after cross-border skirmishes on Sunday left at least 2 Pakistani paramilitary soldiers martyred and many others wounded.

The incident – happened along the border with Afghanistan in Kurram Agency – threatened to derail recent agreement reached between the two neighbours to improve their bilateral ties, officials familiar with the development told the Express Tribune.

However, they said Pakistan was making all-out efforts to ensure that the border clashes did not undermine rapprochement between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

One official confirmed that soon after the border clashes, senior military officials from both sides established contact to avoid further escalation.

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During the recent visit of Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi to Kabul, both the sides agreed to take a series of steps – including better coordination between the two militaries – in order to avoid any misunderstanding.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) confirmed in a statement that the two militaries were engaged to defuse the situation.

The military’s media wing also added that Pakistan was exercising maximum restraint to avoid civilian casualties on the Afghan side of the border.

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A senior Foreign Office official told The Express Tribune that Pakistan has been making efforts to improve bilateral ties with Afghanistan.

The official, who requested anonymity, said such border incidents were unfortunate and could have a negative impact.

However, the official maintained that Pakistan would abide by the understanding reached between the two sides during Prime Minister Abbasi’s visit to Kabul.

The prime minister paid a daylong visit to Kabul on April 6 as part of renewed push by the two sides to resolve their differences through dialogue.

The two countries agreed to operationalise working groups under Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS).

Pak-Afghan relations: Border clash mars peace overtures

While Pakistan reaffirmed its support to the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process, the two countries decided to undertake “effective actions against fugitives and the irreconcilable elements posing security threats to either of the two countries”.

At the same time both countries committed to deny use of their respective territory by any country, network, group or individuals for anti-state activities against either country.

The two sides also decided to put in place a joint supervision, coordination and confirmation mechanism through Liaison Officers (LOs) for realisation of the agreed actions.

The two countries also committed to avoid territorial and aerial violations of each other’s territory.

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In another major step to build confidence, the two countries agreed to avoid public blame game and instead use APAPPS cooperation mechanisms to respond to mutual issues of contention and concerns.

It was because of the understanding that reaction from both sides to the latest border incident was very careful.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • abdulazizansari
    Apr 16, 2018 - 10:43AM

    Afghanistan is crying because Pakistan is putting up a fence, and suddenly their lies that Pakistan is helping Taliban will become known to the world as untrue.
    India is behind Afghanistan in advising them to not allow Pakistan to build the fence, as India is paying TTP terrorists to continue to make trouble between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Pakistan should ignore Afghanistan pleas and continue building the fence between both nations and maintain a strict surveillance .

    Afghanistan present rulers will never be Pakistan’s friend despite Pakistan hosting millions of Afghans for over 35 years.
    Personalities like Karzai and Ashraf Ghani are thankless, selfish people.paid heavily by Indian agencies to propagate Indian agenda, and thus are bound to disseminate their masters voice.Recommend

  • Sabir Shah
    Apr 17, 2018 - 9:34AM

    Some thing is not right. Why we are so defensive instead of offensive. The Afghani are returning five bodies of young FC men. Is that the price we have to pay for Afghan Pakistan diplomatic relation ship? Why we become so fragile?How many Afghani collect there bodies?
    Why keeping nearly seven lakh forces? This time I agree with KHWAJA ASIF speech in parliament.Recommend

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