Problematic frontiers

No amount of diplomacy and muscle-flexing on the military front is bearing out an understanding

May 20, 2024


Cross-border intrusion and clashes are becoming a constant in Pakistan-Afghanistan relations. No amount of diplomacy and muscle-flexing on the military front is bearing out an understanding. This entails not only some deep introspection to study where it has gone wrong, and at the same time explore realistic solutions to the fissures at hand. The homogenous mosaic of ethnicity, culture and tribal traditions have not withered away with the demarcation of boundaries, and the affinity and passion of instant intermingling is at the root-cause of dispute. This has become more compounded with the knocking of international terrorism, and the mushrooming of non-state actors on both sides of the divide. The problem can only be addressed by empowering the locals, and with the state apparatus merely coming to grant sanctity in a legal sense.

The unrest in Kurram district of K-P is a case in point, where tribal clans across the Kharlachi border crossing were in a gunfight. Same is the case even inside ex-FATA agencies where locals and foreign elements, who have made Pakistan their new home, are often at odds. The attack on security forces in North Waziristan and the revulsion in Chitral and elsewhere in the frontier-province underscores the element of human contraction in perceptual horizons. This is where opting for a militaristic solution is ill-advised, and the solution should be carved out in a conventional negotiated manner. Putting in a prompt border management mechanism will also help in taking decisions instantly at the local level, and not waiting for the mess to come full circle. It all pertains to influx across the borders and demands a bilateral grand strategy to deal with it.

The Taliban 2.0 are at a failure to this day in asserting themselves, and their inability to exterminate TTT, IS-K, Al Qaeda and other remnants is costing their credibility. The frequent closure of Torkham crossing, and trigger-happiness of Afghan forces is unbecoming of their claim of good neighbours. Kabul and Islamabad cannot wait for more disasters before putting their foot down.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 20th, 2024.

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