Following Elders

Peace has returned to the Kharlachi-Borraki border with Afghanistan as the week-long sporadic cross-border skirmishes came to an end after a truce was negotiated with the help of tribal elders from both sides in a jirga.

There is little clarity on the cause of the skirmishes, the damage caused on both sides and the contents of the cease-fire agreement. However, we can place this clash in the long string of skirmishes on our western border since the Afghan Taliban came into power. This is not the first time there have been cross-border clashes, nor will this be the last. Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) attacks on Pakistani security forces and safe havens across the mountainous border remain a constant thorn in the side of our government. The Aghan Taliban’s refusal – or inability – to counter this terrorist organization has kept relations between the two countries on thin ice. Pakistan possesses the ability to carry out deep strikes across the border to eliminate these safe havens, and considering the escalations in recent months, such options might be considered more firmly than before. These attacks must stop – there is no other solution.

However, the reason for Pakistan’s restraint and the reason for the resolution of this latest skirmish is the Pashtun people, who straddle the border and maintain familial ties despite nationalities. Elders from both sides mediated and advocated for the jirga, and after securing the ceasefire, it is the same tribal elders that have ensured compliance with the accord, as well as continued dialogue through further jirgas to keep the peace. Afghanistan has emerged from two decades of conflict and military occupation by the US, which itself followed on from an invasion by the Soviet Union, and the subsequent liberation effort.

Further conflict in the war-torn country is of no one’s benefit. Pakistan and Afghanistan share conjoined faiths. The conflict in Afghanistan spilled over into Pakistan, with refugees, militancy, and extremism seeping into our cities with the Pashtun people caught in the center of this maelstrom. Afghanistan needs to chart a course to development and normalcy, to take its place among the world’s countries as the proud nation that it is, and Pakistan must assist in this recovery. The prosperity and safety of the Pashtun people are dependent on this, and Pashtun elders from both sides to take the lead in achieving this future.

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