RECURRING TENSIONS ON PAK-AFGHAN BORDER

RECURRING TENSIONS ON PAK-AFGHAN BORDER

Cross-border clashes between Afghan and Pakistani security forces have broken out for the second time in the first week of May, 2014, escalating tensions between the two countries. The crossfire started after Pakistani troops tried to repair a gate on the border in the Afghan district of Goshta, which Afghanistan says encroached on its side. The Durand Line is the 1893 Britishmandated border between the two countries. It is recognized by Pakistan, but not by Afghanistan. That is why Afghanistan argues that both countries must approve any activity by either side along the line. John Kerry, the US secretary of state came in May to Afghanistan to draw the two neighbours closer so they could channelize their energies in forging peace in Afghanistan instead of engaging in cross-border skirmishes.

 

In 2008, Karzai had even threatened that he might order the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) to cross the Durand Line in order to defeat militants hiding in western Pakistan. On the sidelines of
these border frictions some positive developments also took place like in July 2010, a Memorandum of Understanding(MoU) was reached between Pakistan and Afghanistan for the Afghan-Pak Transit Trade Agreement (APTTA), facilitated by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The two states also signed a MoU for the construction of rail tracks in Afghanistan to connect with Pakistan
Railways (PR), which have been in the making since at least 2005. In October 2010, the landmark APTTA agreement was signed by Pakistani Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim and Anwar
ul-HaqAhady, Afghan Ministry of Commerce. Late Richard Holbrooke, former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and a number of foreign ambassadors, Afghan
parliamentarians and senior officials attended the ceremony. The APTTA allows Afghan trucks to drive inside Pakistan to the Wagah border with India, including to the port cities of Karachi and Gwadar. Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan is expected to reach $5 billion by 2015. Karzai’s malicious statements, however, can throw spanner in the efforts for rapprochement. The next President Abdullah Abdullah has also blamed Pakistan for sponsoring attack on him. Pakistan needs to tread cautiously and tightly under the control of the civilian government.

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