ISLAMABAD: Afghan Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday that a visit of Afghan army officers to Pakistan has been cancelled over the recent ‘Pakistani shelling’ in parts of eastern Kunar province.
An 11-member team of Afghan National Army officers were scheduled to travel to Quetta at the invitation of the Pakistan Army to take part in a simulation military exercise and headquarters drills at the Quetta Staff College, an Afghan Foreign Ministry statement said. A copy of the statement was emailed to The Express Tribune.
“This visit will no longer take place due to the resumption of unacceptable Pakistani artillery shelling against different parts of Kunar province from across the Durand Line on Monday and Tuesday (March 25 and 26),” the statement said.
A Pakistani official said they will discuss a possible response.
Cross-border shelling and attacks have been a source of tension between the two uneasy neighbours for years. Pakistan denies any shelling on civilian areas in Afghanistan and that they target those specific locations from where the militants in Afghanistan fire on Pakistani positions.
Pakistan says that militants, who had fled military operation in the tribal regions, are now operating from Afghanistan border regions and routinely launch attacks on Pakistani posts and villages. Nearly 100 Pakistani security personnel and civilians have been killed in militant attacks from Afghan side of the border, officials say.
Afghan forces arrested a senior Pakistani Taliban leader Maulvi Faqir Mohammad last month in eastern Ningarhar Province last month.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry says that Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Zamai Rasoul had confirmed Faqir’s arrest in his telephonic call. Faqir, the former of Taliban chief in Bajaur tribal region, was among the TTP leaders operating from Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
Pakistan had sought the TTP leader’s handover however Kabul rejected the request on the notion that the two countries have no extradition treaty.
The military says that Maulvi Fazalullah, the former Swat Taliban chief, has regrouped his fighters in Afghanistan. The government has on a number of occasions asked Kabul to extradite him to Pakistan.
On Tuesday the country’s security agencies submitted a report in the Supreme Court, which said the Afghan government was colluding with the Swat chapter of TTP and that the collusion could lead to a surge in cross-border attacks by Taliban militants in the bordering districts of Chitral, Dir, Swat and tribal regions of Bajaur and Momand.
This is the first time Pakistani security forces openly blamed the Afghan government for colluding with the TTP.