Pakistan lodges protest over Afghan border skirmish
FO summons Afghan chargé d’affaires at foreign affairs ministry

Pakistan on Friday summoned the Afghan chargé d’affaires in Islamabad and lodged a strong protest over the recent incidents of “unprovoked cross-border shelling” by the Afghan Taliban forces in the Chaman-Spin Boldak area.

This was the first time Pakistan called the Afghan Taliban envoy as it previously opted only to issue a statement when at least eight Pakistani civilians lost their lives and several others were injured due to border clashes last Sunday.

The move to call the Afghan diplomat suggests Pakistan is running out of patience with the Taliban regime, which not only failed to rein in terrorist groups and sanctuaries, but is now targeting civilians in Pakistan.

The deteriorating situation has led critics to question Pakistan’s Afghan policy as there have been calls for reviewing the strategy.

The first sign Pakistan was now taking a more hardline stance was the Foreign Office summoning the Afghan envoy.

“The Afghan chargé d’affaires in Islamabad was called at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Pakistan’s strong condemnation over recent incidents of unprovoked cross-border shelling by Afghan Border Security Forces in the Chaman-Spin Boldak area, resulting in loss of life, injuries and damage to property, was conveyed,” a statement issued by the Foreign Office on Friday read.

“It was reiterated that protection of civilians remained the responsibility of both sides and that the recurrence of these incidents must be prevented. It was agreed to use established institutional mechanisms in this regard,” the statement added.

The statement, however, said Pakistan remained committed to maintaining fraternal relations with Afghanistan.

“Peace along the Pak-Afghan border is intrinsic to this end,” the statement said.

The recent border clashes erupted reportedly after the Afghan border forces tried to prevent Pakistani authorities from repairing a part of the fence along the border. Pakistan in order to prevent the movement of militants and ensure better border management has fenced the nearly 2,600km-long frontier.

The previous Afghan governments opposed the fencing of the border and the Taliban regime shared a similar view.

But Pakistan is adamant that the measure is important to regulate the movement of people on both sides of the border.

Islamabad was hoping for improvement in bilateral ties since the return of the Taliban to Kabul but the series of incidents have undermined those hopes.

The Afghan Taliban, despite promises, failed to tackle the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and frequent border incidents highlight the challenges facing both sides to improve their ties.

Former Pakistan ambassador to Kabul Mansoor Ahmed Khan believes that it is in the interest of both countries to develop a mechanism to resolve such border issues through dialogue.

The Chaman border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan had only been reopened in late November for all types of traffic amid strict security measures in place, following successful talks between the relevant officials of the two countries.

The latest clashes in Chaman had also followed an attack on the Pakistan ambassador to Kabul earlier this month. Sources said that the Afghan government was not complying with its obligations towards the international community regarding security measures at highly sensitive diplomatic areas.

December 16 , 2022

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