Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to send a joint military team to investigate a recent surge in cross-border attacks that have cost two Afghan ministers their jobs, and soured relations between the two neighbours, Kabul said on Wednesday.
President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart Hamid Karzai took the decision on the sidelines of an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) summit in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Karzai’s office said.
Afghans say that thousands of rockets and heavy artillery shells have landed on their territory in recent months, blaming Pakistan for the alleged attacks.
The Afghan parliament recently disqualified Defence Minister General Rahim Wardak and Interior Minister General Bismillah Mohammadi, arguing that the top security ministers failed to prevent border attacks from Pakistan.
Pakistan, meanwhile, has denied charges and says groups of Pakistani Taliban sheltering in Afghanistan have infiltrated the border to resume attacks on its security forces.
According to Kabul, President Karzai asked Pakistan at the sidelines of the OIC summit “to immediately end these attacks” and warned that if they continued, they would negatively impact “Afghanistan’s friendship with Pakistan.”
His office said President Zardari agreed to assign a joint military delegation to visit the border and investigate the shelling.
Zardari’s office, meanwhile, was vague.
According to a press release from the President’s office, Zardari said that Pakistan considers Afghanistan’s peace and security as its own peace and security, and that a peaceful, stable and prosperous Afghanistan was also in Pakistan’s interest.
“The two leaders were unanimous in the view that all groups should shun violence and join the peace process in Afghanistan, for peace and stability of the region,” the press statement said.
The apparent agreement to investigate the border violence comes after officials on both sides said Pakistan allowed an Afghan delegation to meet a senior Taliban leader being held in a Pakistani jail.
The Afghan embassy in Islamabad, however, denied reports on Tuesday that Afghan officials had met with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to discuss peace negotiations.
Pakistan’s 2010 arrest of Mullah Baradar, a powerful military chief described as the Taliban’s second in command, had been blamed by Kabul for sabotaging peace initiatives.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 16th, 2012.