Tense exchanges

Increase in tensions between Kabul and Islamabad would not be something we want at the present moment.

Editorial August 03, 2014

The tension between Islamabad and Kabul over cross border incursions, by militants from the Afghan side of the border, continues. In the latest incident, Pakistan has strongly protested an attack Friday on a check post in Bajaur Agency bordering the Afghan province of Kunar, in which one FC jawan was killed. In late July, 70 or 80 militants allegedly from the Afghan side of the fence had attacked a check post in Lower Dir leading to deaths of several among the terrorists. Pakistan, especially since the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azb has continued to strongly demand that Afghanistan control the crossing over of militants from its Kunar and Nuristan areas in order to ensure the action against militants in the country can succeed.

It seems this has not happened. Security officials in Pakistan, clearly frustrated by the situation, have warned that Islamabad may be forced to resort to military action including ‘hot pursuit’ into Afghanistan if the incursions do not stop. The porous nature of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, running along the Durand Line, has constantly created problems in the battle against militancy. These issues seem to be continuing now notably because militants from Afghanistan seem able to launch attacks inside Pakistani territory. We also know that key Pakistan militant leaders, including the chief of the TTP, have for months taken shelter in Afghanistan, moving across the border as and when they wish.

This is an unacceptable situation. Both countries need to battle terrorism jointly if there is to be any hope of success against scourge that has so badly affected both nations and their people. We must hope however that the need for military force that Pakistan has warned of does not arise. Foreign Office officials and the prime minister have emphasised their desire to resolve matters through diplomacy and talks. We must hope that they succeed in this. It is the only way to stop the militants in their stride and an increase in tensions between Kabul and Islamabad would not be something we want at the present moment. Talks then should be the key tool to be used in order to pull ourselves forward.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 4th, 2014.

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