Clashes at Torkham border crossing
FAKEHA FAIZ Pakistan, these days, keeps plunging from one foreign policy crisis into another. The recent skirmishes at the Pak-Afghan border are the latest example that things at the foreign policy front are getting topsy-turvy for Pakistan, at the moment when the country can least afford. The stand-off at the Pak Afghan kicked off when Pakistan started to build a gate on its side of the border to regulate the free movement of people and traffic from across the Durand Line.
The Afghanistan government, however believes that this sort of security arrangement at the border is the violation of the written agreement signed between the two countries which aimed to ease the movement almost 400 clans and tribes living on both sides of the border for centuries. Afghanistan believes that such people are tied by the bond of blood and brotherhood, and restricting their movement would not only be an injustice with these tribal people, but also the violation of agreement. Pakistan believes that tightening security at the border is absolutely necessary not only for Pakistan, but also for Afghanistan as many unscrupulous elements infiltrate into the two countries in the garb of common tribals. Moreover, smuggling also takes place through the border without any hindrance.
Both countries need to cool down tensions, as aggressive posturing by both sides would only aggravate the problem. Both the countries cannot afford any further rift in relations, as the Pak-Afghan relationship is already at the lowest ebb. We cannot allow hostilities and bitterness to grow between neighbours on which the peace and stability of the region depends. The issue demands farsightedness and prudence from the leadership of the two countries, and it is important for both to be on the same page. Afghanistan, being our brotherly nation needs to be engaged through dialogue and diplomacy. Innocent civilians and border security officials of both sides have already borne the brunt of unabated firing. Ceasefire is a welcome development, but the issue still demands a long-lasting amicable settlement without hurting the interests of either side. It is hoped that sanity and peace prevails in both countries. —Via email