Blaming Pakistan for Afghan Ills Will Not Solve the Problem

20 Jun

Ishaal zehra
Peace was restored at the Pak-Afghan Torkham border on Wednesday after the intense episode of cross firing which began soon after the construction of gate at a check-post on the Pakistani side of the Durand Line started. The Pakistani effort of preventing the entry of militants through Torkham border somehow annoyed the Afghans who triggered unprovoked firing on the Pakistani security forces late on Sunday. After four days of cross exchange of heavy artillery, a seize-fire was reported on the border area. The area remained calm, but naturally tense.
This development took place only after the telephonic conversation between Afghanistan Ambassador to Pakistan Dr Hazrat Omar Zakhilwal and Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz, media sources say. Diplomatic sources even said that Zakhilwal also met high-ups of the Pakistan Army at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi. The ambassador then went back to Afghanistan and returned to Pakistan on Wednesday after attending the national security conference in Kabul. It was learnt that both Pakistan and afghan side has agreed on a ceasefire and laid stress on the need for resolving the Torkham border issue through dialogue.
Despite agreeing to cease fire and hoisting white flags on both sides of the border, Afghan forces resorted to unprovoked firing late on Wednesday night. Pakistani forces retaliated to the firing as a result of which, reportedly, two FC soldiers were injured. The injured were transported to a nearby hospital.
Meanwhile, Afghan ambassador to Pakistan Umar Zakhilwal denied that he had agreed to any ceasefire at Torkham during his meeting with Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif. Resorting to a quite unofficial way of communication, the Afghan ambassador in a statement on Facebook rejected the impression that he agreed to the construction of a gate at Torkham and a ceasefire. Though earlier, media claims, Omar Zakhilwal said he met Pakistani officials and the countries had “agreed on a ceasefire”.
According to a Political Administration official, white flags were raised on both sides of the border later in the day. Construction work on the gate started at 9am and no incident of firing took place, as work resumed later in the evening. But later that day, an exchange of heavy artillery was seen at the main Khyber Pass border crossing between Pakistan and Afghan troops.
The Pakistan Army’s Major Ali Jawad Changezi, who had sustained injuries in the first episode of firing by the afghan army died at hospital, while many Afghan soldiers were killed in the fierce exchange of fire in which light and heavy weapons were used. Reportedly, several locals on both sides were also wounded in the clashes.
Though relations between the US allies never remained closed after the end of soviet war and this was basically because of the unrefined US policy who left the region without any concrete policy for the abandon afghan Talibans. But the Pak-Afghan relations further strained over the past 15 years after the elected Afghan regime started accusing Pakistan for supporting the Taliban who were fighting to unseat the US-backed government in Kabul. The point to understand was that Pakistan was and is still home to 2.7 million Afghan refugees. For the past three decades Pakistan has been providing them with food and shelter and education. A majority of them are unwilling to go back to the war-torn country which they feel unsafe for their children. These refugees are relatives of Afghans living on the other side of border and use the border to frequently visit their land. Apart from these common Afghans, the Taliban also use the facility in the guise of commoners.
Pakistan cannot let the Taliban enter the land and use Pakistan as a proxy for their larger plans and building the gate for security check was meant for this purpose. The border gate it is building is well on its side of the border and will help stop militants from crossing and help fight drug trafficking. Pakistan’s foreign policy chief, Sartaj Aziz, expressed concern over what he called the Afghan army’s attempts to “disrupt border management efforts” by Pakistan.
Afghanistan objects to all Pakistani construction on a 2,200-km border… meaning they object to peace in Pakistan. Previous ceasefire deals announced over the last few days were swiftly broken. Wednesday was the first day in recent days when no exchange of fire took place at the Torkham border. The peace brought a sense of relief to the people living in the border area as the people hoped that the issue would be resolved peacefully.
On the Afghan side they have been, in general, calling the US to intervene into the matter. The Afghan government has asked the US to put pressure on Islamabad to step back. But the US has ruled out any mediation between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Afghan government should understand by now that the issues we have are to be solved bilaterally. Pakistan is the only country who is sincere in its efforts in bringing peace in Afghanistan, mainly because we are sharing the burden of not only Afghan refugees but the Taliban threat also. If these three million Afghan refugees, who are being provided refugee for three decades, go back, Pakistan would neither be blamed for hosting Quetta Shoora nor to the Haqqani network.

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