Afghanistan calls in Pakistan envoy over ‘cross-border shelling’
The Afghan Foreign Ministry has summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to Kabul in protest at alleged cross-border shelling by Pakistani forces.
According to a statement from the Afghan ministry, Pakistan’s ambassador was summoned on Thursday to receive Kabul’s protest over the recent cross-border shelling.
“Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai summoned the ambassador of Islamic Republic of Pakistan to Kabul, Sayed Ibrar Hussain, and expressed the protest and concern of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in relation to the mortar and artillery shelling of Pakistani military forces over the Afghan territory along Durand Line,” the statement read.
Hussain promised to convey the concerns of the Afghan government to the relevant authorities in Pakistan.
Senior Afghan officials say Pakistani forces shelled several villages across the eastern provinces of Nangarhar and Kunar over on Tuesday and Wednesday. Sources say up to three civilians, including a woman, were killed and two others injured in the cross-border attacks.
Karzai also noted that the attacks were fueling anti-Pakistan sentiments across Afghanistan.
“The continuity of such attacks is against principles of good neighborliness and international law and norms, and can significantly harm friendly relations between the two nations,” the statement quoted Karzai as saying.
Reacting to the allegations, an unnamed Pakistani military source denied that any major incident of cross-border shelling had happened over the past few days.
Pakistani military officials insist that Pakistani forces usually fire at militants who try to cross the porous border between the two countries.
“It may have happened at the sub-tactical level,” Pakistan’s English-language newspaper, Dawn, quoted the source as saying.
Relations between Kabul and Islamabad have been strained in recent months, especially over the delicate issue of demarcation of the two countries’ border, which is a key battleground in the fight against the Taliban. Afghanistan has never recognized the British-drawn colonial-era borderline with northwestern Pakistan.
Pakistan recognizes the Durand Line, the 1893 British-mandated border between the two neighbors, but Afghanistan says that activity by either side along the Durand Line must be approved by both countries.
Moreover, Kabul blames elements within the Pakistani government for supporting Taliban militants, while Islamabad blames Afghanistan for giving refuge to militants on its side of the border.
The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001 with the stated objective of curbing militancy and bringing peace and stability to the region. However, after more than 13 years, the region is still grappling with rampant militancy.