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Sunday, January 29, 2023
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Guns and roses

Pakistan has suffered greatly over the years due to the shared border with Afghanistan. The lack of fencing has allowed easy access to anyone in either country, and this has allowed terrorists and illegal items to cross over to the other country with ease

The title of this column must speak for itself. I don’t understand the reason for bloodshed along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border when border points are primarily functional to facilitate the Afghans who want to enter Pakistan for medical emergencies, livelihood, and family engagements with their relatives living in border areas.

Cross-border tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been prevalent since the Soviet invasion in 1979. The two countries share a long and porous border, known as the Durand Line, which has often served as a flashpoint for cross-border violence, particularly in recent years. In July 2018, tensions between the two countries escalated after several incidents of cross-border firing that led to the deaths of several security forces and civilians. Pakistan accused the Afghan National Security Forces of deliberately targeting its civilian population, while Afghanistan accused Pakistan of harbouring and supporting militants operating in its territory.

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The two countries have since taken steps to de-escalate the situation, including the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two countries in February 2019. The MoU, which was ratified by both countries’ parliaments, committed to strengthening border security and intelligence sharing between the two countries.

In October 2020, the two countries agreed to set up a hotline to communicate and resolve disputes. The hotline is intended to help defuse tension between the two countries and facilitate the exchange of intelligence between their militaries. Despite these efforts, cross-border tensions remain high, and both countries continue to accuse each other of supporting militants operating within their respective borders.

But these MoUs hardly worked out.

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In an “unprovoked” bombing and gunfire attack on a border town on Sunday, Afghan Taliban forces reportedly killed six Pakistani civilians and injured at least 17 others. Pakistan’s military denounced the attack at Chaman, claiming that the Afghan side fired “indiscriminately.” In retaliatory fire, Pakistani forces claimed the life of one Afghan soldier.

The reason for the clash is yet to be confirmed. However, tensions have arisen between the neighbouring countries over security issues since the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan last year. The major cause of concern has been the fencing of the border that the Pakistani forces have been carrying out to keep a check on who crosses the border. Pakistan has suffered greatly over the years due to the shared border with Afghanistan. The lack of fencing has allowed easy access to anyone in either country, and this has allowed terrorists and illegal items to cross over to the other country with ease. The previous Afghan government and the Taliban government have both countered Pakistan’s efforts towards establishing a proper border with the neighbouring country. According to some news reports, the most recent attack was also due to this issue. However, there has been no confirmation from either side.

Afghanistan has become a nuisance for Pakistan, sorry to say. The invasion of Russia, the creation of the Taliban, and the subsequent war on terror in the neighbouring country have had various negative consequences for Pakistan. The country houses millions of Afghan refugees, many of whom have brought nothing but distress to the country. Moreover, the problem of the Taliban in Afghanistan had a spillover effect on Pakistan when the Pakistani faction of the militant organization was formed. The previous Afghan government was known to have friendly relations with Pakistan’s arch-nemesis India and was continuously working against its most supportive neighbour. Even though Pakistan had great hopes to have cordial relations with the new Taliban government, it seems unlikely as they have been nothing but notorious since they came to power.

It is time for Pakistan to reconsider Afghanistan, the Taliban, Daesh, ISIS, and TTP, all of which are linked to Afghanistan. The neighbouring country has only caused problems for Pakistan and it is high time that a permanent border with proper checks and balances is established so that attacks like the recent Chaman border attack are not repeated. Pakistan has lost much in a bid to save the Afghan. It is time they stand up for themselves and Pakistan saves itself from the notoriety of a fake friend.

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