Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Thursday, May 24th, 2018

Repeated Clashes in the Vicinity of Durand Line

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Repeated Clashes in the  Vicinity of Durand Line

Armed Clashes and missile volleys havebeen frequentlyreportingin few last yearsfrom the vicinity of Durand Line provinces. Last Sunday, again adeadly fighting broke out between Afghan and Pakistani border guards in eastern Paktia province. Both sides gave death tolls and accused each other of opening fire along the disputed 2,430-kilometer long border region known as the Durand Line, which was named after the British colonial officer Sir Mortimer Durand drew it in 1896. According to Pakistani media two Pakistani border troops were killed and six others injured in the clash. They accused Afghanistan of opening fire on Pakistani troops in the country’s Kurram Agency when they were carrying out routine surveillance along the Pak-Afghan border and making necessary preparations to start fencing of that area.
However, Afghan security officials rejected the Pakistani claims, saying that the clash was allegedly initiated by the Pakistani side. According to media reports, the clashes started after the Afghan and foreign troops tried to close a Taliban transit route close to the Durand Line but the Pakistani forces started shelling the Afghan security forces.  It is said that the route across the Durand Line was being used by Taliban insurgents and that a joint military operation between Afghan army and commandos, accompanied by US forces, were carrying out an operation to protect the route and establish check posts then they came under fire from Pakistani forces.
As quoted by Tolo news, the 203rd Thunder Corps Commander, General Shaur Gul, saidthat the battle started when Pakistani soldiers started shooting at a check post close to Jandighar area in Zazi Maidan district. The Jandighar check post is located on top of a hill but the Pakistani military has tried on several occasions to capture the check post. So, on Sunday when they again tried to take control, local residents retaliated.“At eight o’clock Pakistani military started attacking our local people and security forces fired back, killing three Pakistani soldiers. Three others were arrested, and our two Afghan civilians were killed, and two others were wounded,” Gul said.
Afghan authorities on Monday handed over a Pakistani border guard and the dead bodies of Pakistani troops who had been killed during the clashes. Speaking at a news conference in southeastern Khost province, Governor Hukum Khan Habibi said the captured guard and five bodies were handed over to Pakistan “with full respect and in line with the standard protocols”. “Situation [in the ZaziMaidan mountainous area where clashes broke out] is normal now after a cease-fire agreement was reached between the two sides,” Habibi said.
Although the clashes have eased off, Afghan security forces and residents in the area are on high alert and will retaliate if attacked by Pakistan again, officials said. “Any movement which is taking place at the border should be reported to the opposing side; you (Pakistani military) have shed the blood of innocent people and it is not a good approach,” said colonel Faraidoon Fayaz, the commander of Afghan border police in the eastern zone at the press conference. “You (Pakistani military soldiers) serve on the zero point at the border and must respect the international law; you (Pakistan side) argue that ten meters does not make a difference, but you should stay 50 meters away from the zero point at the border,” said Colonel Osman Janbaz, the commander of the second division of the Afghan border police.
This comes after Ghani Samim, Kunar governor’s spokesman, said last week that in only a few days nearly 1,500 missiles had been fired on Kunar province from Pakistan. He said after a break of two days, shelling started up again last Monday night. Almost 400 missiles landed in Kunar province overnight, he said. In February last year, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) warned that Pakistan’s missile attacks on the eastern regions of the country would have serious consequences, suggesting that a diplomatic solution to the issue between the two neighbors was needed.However, Pakistani officials rejected the aggressions from their side and said that they targeted only terrorist groups by firing off the missiles but residents said the missiles hit their houses and the surrounding forests.
In reaction to the attacks by the Pakistani military, lawmakers in Afghanistan’s Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament) have slammed Pakistan for the attacks over the past two days.  Some MPs said Pakistan is an enemy that does not want to see a peaceful Afghanistan. Lawmakers however, praised the residents, in Zazi Maidan, for having defended their country after Sunday’s attack by Pakistan.  “Pakistan’s Punjabis once again carried out a heavy attack on ZaziMaidan district and the border regions,” said one MP, Sahib Khan.
“It is a clear act of aggression and a violation by Pakistan and we strongly condemn this act of Pakistan. The Afghan security officials have the responsibility to defend Afghanistan’s territorial integrity and they must have practical measures in place to do so,” said the speaker of the Wolesi Jirga (Lower House of Parliament), Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi.
Thus, theAfghan security officials, warned Pakistan against carrying out any further action along the Durand Line and said additional hostile moves would have serious consequences. Speaking at a joint press conference with Pakistani military officials in Dand-e-Ptan district, in Paktia, which is close to Zazi Maidan district in eastern Khost province, the officials said the Afghan people will not tolerate hostile action by Pakistan’s military against their country anymore.

Mohammad Zahir Akbari is the permanent writer of the Daily Outlook Afghanistan. He can be reached at mohammadzahirakbari@gmail.com

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