By Behroz Khan
A new round of blame-game has been kicked off between Afghanistan and Pakistan with each side accusing the other of border violation and interference, a situation that jeopardizes efforts for regional stability. The spat also comes at a time of particular sensitivity for Afghanistan, which is embroiled in a debilitating controversy over voter fraud in its presidential election and the United States is preparing to withdraw its troops at the end of 2014. Kabul and Washington are yet to sign a bilateral security agreement, which is aimed at ensuring future U.S. military support for Afghanistan.
Summoning Diplomats to lodge protests:
Kabul Monday accused Islamabad for what the Afghan Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said, supporting the Taliban militants by increasing the presence of its military personnel and advisers among the terrorist groups in Afghanistan. The issue was discussed during the National Security Council (NSC) meeting chaired by President Hamid Karzai, the spokesman told media in Kabul. Pakistan was also criticized for the continued cross-border shelling in Dangam and Shegal districts of eastern Kunar province and the NSC warned that the government and people of Afghanistan will not remain silent on these violations. Pakistan on Saturday accused Afghanistan of the same when one of its security personnel was killed by cross border fire at a security check post in Bajur tribal region.
Pakistan’s foreign office last week called Afghanistan’s ambassador in Islamabad to lodge yet another strong protest over the alleged crossing over by armed attackers on a Pakistani security check post in north-western Dir district. Pakistan military officials claimed killing six militants and repulsing an attack allegedly launched by dozens of Afghanistan-based militants from Kunar province.
However, speaking to VOA, a spokesman for the Afghan foreign ministry, Seraj-ul-Haq Seraj had rejected the Pakistani claims. In turn, he criticized Islamabad for summoning the Afghan diplomat, alleging that such actions were meant to “cover up” repeated border violations originating from Pakistan. Afghan officials have blamed Pakistan’s spy agency ISI for organizing the recent suicide missions allegedly carried out by Pakistan-based militants in Kandahar, Khost, Paktia and Kabul, a charge Islamabad has denied.
US on the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan:
Former US Ambassador in Afghanistan, Ronald E. Neumann told Deewa Radio over the weekend that Pakistan military was engaged in a difficult operation in the tribal region but it was very important that Pakistan makes it clear it was targeting all militant groups. “And if that happens, Afghanistan should also reciprocate”, he said. “Right now you have so much suspicion on both sides.” He said it the situation did not help relations Afghan-Pakistan ties.
Congressman Adam Smith told VOA Deewa Radio that besides resolving the controversy of the Afghan presidential elections to have a power sharing agreement; Afghanistan needs to sign the bilateral agreement with the US to have some sense of stability. “I think it is incredibly important for the future of Pakistan and for the future of Afghanistan and for the future of the whole region as well.”
On the Afghanistan-Pakistan scenario, the congressman said there was a lot of distrust between the two neighbors and patching up was very important. “Those two countries are going to work together. They have mutual interest; they are threatened by the very similar folks, the Taliban.”
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-LA) on the post-2014 withdrawal of US and NATO forces from Afghanistan said, “I Believe it’s incredibly important for us to settle what this is going to look like. What type of security and capability is really in Afghanistan? We have to know who is really going to be in charge of that country when we leave. And if it is unstable, it will affect the stability of Pakistan also, and the most important, apart from economy, is the security issue”.
Military operation and the IDPs:
Pakistan has evicted about one million tribesmen to launch the much-delayed military operation in North Waziristan, a strong base of foreign and local militant groups. About 100,000 tribesmen from Waziristan took shelter in Afghanistan’s Khost province, much to the chagrin of Pakistan saying that Kabul was using the tribesmen against Pakistan. However, Afghanistan’s plea is that provision of shelter and other assistance to the displaced Pakistani tribesmen was purely on humanitarian basis.
Pakistan said the operation in North Waziristan was across the board against terrorists sparing no militant group, a claim disputed by Afghanistan. Kabul’s reservations are that the dreaded Haqani Network is not the target of the Pakistani military operation. US general Joseph Dunford, chief of the military operations in Afghanistan also told Congress the current Pakistan military operation in Waziristan was not targeting the terrorist Haqqani Network. Islamabad blame that the TTP faction of Maulana Fazlullah is based in eastern Afghanistan and demand action from Kabul to dislodge the group, a charge Kabul denies.
The uneasy neighbors share more than 1500 miles porous but controversial border, called the Durand Line, which was drawn between the then British India and Afghanistan in 1893. After the creation of Pakistan in 1947, the Pashtun areas divided by the imagery demarcation from Afghanistan were given to Pakistan. However, Afghanistan still lay claim to the areas and is not ready to recognize the divide, which is also one of the contentious issues between the two countries.