Pak-Afghan border situation improves Significantly

WEB DESK : Pakistan is no longer being used as the launch pad for attacks into Afghanistan.

Background interviews with officials and security forces, sources along Pak-Afghan border reveal that the situation on the border has improved significantly due to strict measures taken to avert possible infiltration of militants into Pakistan after they escaped the military offensives that began on 15 June, 2014.

Pakistan has been under pressure from US in denying space to the Taliban and its ally, the Haqqani Network, accused of waging an insurgency in Afghanistan. Afghan leadership however continues to accuse Pakistan of giving space to Afghan insurgents which undermine Pakistan’s efforts to improve bilateral relations with Afghanistan.

“We are making every effort to ensure that cross border infiltration is no longer an issue between the two countries and security forces of the two nations are also co-ordinating efforts at the local level”, a security official close to the Pak-Afghan border, neighbouring Paktia province of Afghanistan, told this to correspondent over the phone.

Paktia has been the worst battle field for Afghan National Army in the recent past after its important district Jani Khel fell to the Taliban in August this year prompting local Afghan authorities to blame Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) for assisting the Taliban, particularly the Haqqani Network. However Afghan forces succeeded in retaking the district on September 5, 2016 after a fierce battle.

The launch of Zarb-e-Azb in North Waziristan led to Taliban insurgents (especially the Haqqani Network) to relocate in the hilly areas of Kurram Agency which, so claims the Afghan government, facilitated the launch of their attacks inside Paktia. However, Pakistani authorities categorically reject this claim saying Pakistan security forces on the border were themselves under attack from the militants from across the border and such attacks continued until mid-June of this year. Post June local authorities of the two countries reached an understanding that they will not allow the militants to operate from each other’s territory.

“We are still abiding by that understanding, which was reached between the local authorities of the two countries at Borki-Kharlachi at Pak-Afghan border”, the security official asserted while rejecting the allegations that Haqqani Network was operating from Pakistan.

Talking to Business Recorder, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria also dispelled the impression that the Haqqanis were operating from Pakistani territory. He said that as per the information gathered from media reports since July this year, 8 leaders and commanders of Haqqani Network have been killed in Afghanistan by ISAF, US and Afghan forces. “This clearly indicates where the Haqqani elements are located”, he asserted.

As far as the peace and stability in Afghanistan is concerned, he said that Pakistan has made its position very clear on a number of occasions namely that Pakistan wishes to see peace and stability in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan remains committed to extending support to all initiatives aimed at bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan. We feel and believe that peace in Afghanistan is in the interest of Pakistan and the entire region”, he said. Besides undertaking reconstruction and assistance projects in Afghanistan and thereby contributing to development efforts and infrastructure building in that country, he said that Pakistan has also been active in the context of reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

One of the manifestations in this regard is the Quadrilateral Co-ordination Group (QCG) process, he said, adding Pakistan’s contribution to this process is by playing an effective role as a facilitator. “QCG was just a few months old process with which unrealistic expectations were attached considering that 15 years of military approach couldn’t bring about peace and stability”, he added.

He said that Pakistan supports efforts to bring warring factions in Afghanistan to the negotiating table with the Afghan government. “We have firm belief that any solution to the Afghan problem is not in a military approach but is in peaceful negotiations. We have supported all such efforts to that end”, Zakaria added.

Source : Business Recorder