ISLAMABAD - Tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan has intensified as Islamabad yesterday accused Kabul of breaching Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Diplomatic sources told The Nation that Pakistan had conveyed the message in this regard to Afghanistan besides issuing condemnations by the Foreign Office.
Pakistan has accused the Taliban-led government in Afghanistan of constructing illegal structures at a critical border crossing, asserting that it constitutes a breach of their territorial sovereignty. The Torkham border crossing, situated in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has remained closed since last week following a clash between their respective forces. This closure has left hundreds of trucks transporting essential goods stranded on both sides of the border. Pakistani forces only responded to the firing from the Afghanistan side.
Over the weekend, the Taliban government accused Pakistan of firing upon its troops while they were repairing an “old security post.” The Taliban government contended that Islamabad was causing hindrances and delays in the process of reopening this transit point, emphasizing that such actions were detrimental to trade in Afghanistan, the region, and the national economy of Pakistan, which heavily relies on exports.
Pakistan’s stance is centred on reports that Afghan forces were involved in the unauthorized construction of a new border post, which triggered the exchange of fire between the border guards last week. The Taliban reported the loss of two of its guards during this incident. The closure of the Torkham border crossing has occurred at a time when relations between the two nations are strained. Pakistan has consistently urged Afghanistan to take measures to control the movement of armed attackers and prevent them from entering its territory.
Afghanistan has consistently denied allegations that it allows its territory to be used as a launch-pad for armed groups to carry out attacks on other countries.
Pakistan’s claims come in the wake of a surge in armed attacks in the provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan since the Taliban came to power in 2021. Many of these attacks have been claimed by the outlawed Pakistan Taliban, also known as TTP, which shares ideological alignment with the Taliban in Afghanistan. On the same day as the Torkham firing incident, the TTP claimed responsibility for attacking two military check-posts in the remote Chitral district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, resulting in the deaths of four Pakistani soldiers. Additionally, at least 12 TTP fighters lost their lives in these attacks.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan pointed to “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing” by Afghan forces as the reason behind the closure of this crucial trade route connecting the two nations.
According to the FO statement, the situation escalated on September 6th when Afghan troops, instead of pursuing a peaceful resolution, surprisingly engaged in indiscriminate firing. FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloich said they targeted Pakistani military posts, causing damage to infrastructure at the Torkham Border Terminal. She said this action also placed the lives of both Pakistani and Afghan civilians in jeopardy, as the Afghan forces were prevented from erecting these contested structures. This official statement was made one day after attempts to negotiate the reopening of the Torkham crossing failed.