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On Friday, the Afghan forces fired upon troops of the Frontier Corps (FC) who were providing security to the census team on the Chaman border. In the ongoing firefight which involves the use of mortars, 7 civilians have been killed while 46 have been critically injured. The Chaman crossing has been sealed. The Afghans had been told about the planned census visit.

According to reports, mortar shells hit houses in the village of Kali Luqman. Among the injured are children and 4 FC soldiers.

This border skirmish comes just days after the Pakistan military and intelligence leadership visited Afghanistan for talks on better security cooperation.

Earlier DG ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted, “Afghan border police opened fire on FC troops detailed for the security of census in a village along Chaman border. One civilian killed and 18 others injured, including four FC soldiers.”

Read more: Pakistan & Afghanistan: Victims of each other?

DG ISPR further said, “Since 30 April, Afghan border police has been creating hurdles in conducting the census in divided villages of Kili Luqman and Kili Jahangir in Chaman area on the Pakistani side of the border.”

However, of late this killing been happening frequently. The border was sealed and the Pakistani forces were said to have pounded terrorist camps inside Afghanistan in February 2017.

Recent Peace Initiative by Pakistan to reduce hostilities

This border skirmish comes just days after the Pakistan military and intelligence leadership visited Afghanistan for talks on better security cooperation. Last week, a military delegation headed by the Chief of General Staff (CGS), Lt. Gen. Bilal Akbar met Afghan army officials and discussed on new border security mechanisms. This violation of the border after assurances of cooperation has raised a lot of question marks.

Proactive engagements by Islamabad at multiple levels have been given a lackluster response by the Afghans in return. Not only has Pakistan been active on the bilateral level but also wholeheartedly participated in the Moscow-led conference on Afghanistan.

Pakistan has engaged with the Afghan leadership to resolve outstanding issues on various occasions and forums recently. Apart from interactions between the military and intelligence high command of both countries, Pakistan has tried other means too. Last month the Adviser for Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz met the Afghan National Security Adviser, Hanif Atmar in London. It was done in response to constant complaints of Pakistan allowing its soil to be used against Afghanistan. Pakistan considered addressing these complaints despite having ample evidence of the Afghan soil being used for a series of attacks in Lahore and Sehwan this February. Pakistan went the extra mile by realizing the problems faced by Afghanistan in curtailing inimical elements and offered cooperation.

In spite of all these overtures president, Ashraf Ghani declined the invitation to Pakistan on Thursday.

Read more: Pak-Afghan Border Reopened: Alternatives for Pakistan?

“I will not go to Pakistan till the perpetrators of the attacks in Mazar-i-Sharif, the American University [in Kabul] and the Kandahar attacks are handed over to Afghan authorities and until Islamabad takes concrete action against Afghan Taliban militants on Pakistani soil,” President’s Deputy Spokesman Minapal quoted Ghani as saying.

The breach of the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan at a time when the country is trying to play an active in the Afghan peace process lends support to voices which talk of the subversive R&AW-NDS nexus.

A lot could be inferred from recent developments in and related to the Afghan theater. Proactive engagements by Islamabad at multiple levels have been given a lackluster response by the Afghans in return. Not only has Pakistan been active on the bilateral level but also wholeheartedly participated in the Moscow-led conference on Afghanistan. The US’s nonparticipation in the conference followed by the employment of the Mother of all bombs led many to doubt its’ seriousness in resolving the Afghan conundrum.

The breach of the territorial sovereignty of Pakistan at a time when the country is trying to play an active in the Afghan peace process lends support to voices which talk of the subversive R&AW-NDS nexus. Events suggest that there are elements within and outside the Afghan establishment that are keeping the situation flared up on the AF-Pak border.  With the Afghan government demanding and the US government wanting a greater Indian role in the country, one can foresee rising tensions. Moreover, the renewed Russian interest in Afghanistan and its policy variance with that of the United States means Afghanistan could be in more instability and chaos.

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