Pakistan Denies Firing Rockets into Afghanistan

Posted June 27th, 2011 at 5:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Pakistan has denied accusations by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that its military is routinely firing rockets into eastern Afghan provinces.

Mr. Karzai, who met with Pakistani army chief General Ashfaq Kayani in Kabul Monday, accused Pakistan of firing 470 rockets into Afghan border provinces over the past three weeks, killing 36 people, including several children.

The Afghan leader expressed concern about the issue and demanded an immediate end to the rocket attacks. He said he discussed the issue with Pakistani and NATO leaders and warned of consequences if the incidents continued.

Pakistani army spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said Monday that the military has not intentionally fired any rounds into Afghan territory, but that a few accidental rounds may have crossed the border as security forces targeted fleeing militants. General Kayani reportedly told Mr. Karzai that the matter will be investigated.

Abbas also said there have been five attacks by militants from Afghanistan on Pakistani posts over the past month. He said the cross-border attacks have killed 55 paramilitary soldiers and wounded 80 in Pakistan's northwest tribal region.

Pakistan's government has also expressed concern that militants opposed to it are taking advantage of a security vacuum being created by the impending withdrawal of NATO forces from Afghanistan and launching cross-border attacks.

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have long been strained over accusations that each side is not doing enough to curb the flow of militants in the porous border region.

Representatives from the two countries will meet with U.S. officials in Kabul Tuesday for talks that are expected to focus on Afghanistan's reconciliation efforts with the Taliban.

On Monday, the U.S. special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Marc Grossman, told reporters in Kabul that the talks will examine ways for Pakistan to become more involved in Afghanistan's peace process.

Grossman also said the meeting will provide an opportunity to clearly convey the need for Pakistan to stop supporting safe havens of militants who routinely attack NATO and local forces in Afghanistan.

NATO spokesman General Josef Blotz said lines of communication are open between Afghanistan, Pakistan and NATO, because insurgents can and do cross the border.