Afghanistan on Monday said it is considering a “fitting response” to the alleged killing of three soldiers and eight civilians by Pakistani troops in the eastern Kunar province.
The allegation comes at a time when Islamabad is trying to build closer ties with Kabul and is seeking the neighbouring country’s help to bolster border security and discourage militants from entering the Afghan side of the border.
Last week, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif sent his special envoy to Kabul to meet Afghan President Hamid Karzai and sought cooperation to make the North Waziristan’s military push successful. Karzai has decided to send his national security adviser for follow-up discussions with Pakistani leaders to put in place a road map for future cooperation.
The Afghan foreign ministry said on Monday that at least three Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers were killed in a “recent attack by Pakistani forces” in Kunar. The ministry’s spokesperson Ahmad Shakib Mustaghni said in his weekly briefing that “Pakistani forces, wearing civilian clothes, carried out the attack” in Dangam district two days ago. He said locals rushed to the border area to assist the Afghan soldiers.
The spokesperson strongly condemned what he called an “unforgivable attack and an act of aggression against Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity” and warned of reprisal attacks. “Afghanistan is pondering a response to Pakistani incursions,” Mustaghni said, adding, “Afghan security forces are capable of defending the country and could avenge Pakistani attacks.” He also said, “We will not remain silent spectators and will give a befitting response to Pakistani attacks at an appropriate time.”
The foreign ministry’s remarks came a day after Afghanistan’s National Security Council met under President Karzai and tasked security forces with stopping cross-border attacks by enhancing coordination. Afghan Defence Minister Besmillah Muhammadi expressed concerns at the attacks and briefed the council about the incidents.
A statement from Karzai’s office quoted the defence minister as saying that Pakistani forces are “using heavy and the latest weapons”. He also claimed that “Pakistani forces have also increased attacks in Helmand and Nangarhar provinces and have also killed civilians”. He said President Karzai has instructed the security forces to prepare a fitting response.
The Afghan foreign ministry added that 3,000 refugee families have arrived from North Waziristan in Khost province. Mustaghni said terrorists may have arrived with the IDPs and security forces are investigating this possibility.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 24th, 2014.