Guess what? At least seven people have been killed and over 30 others have been injured after deadly border clashes between Afghanistan and Pakistan on the southwestern border town of Chaman, adjacent to the Afghan province of Kandahar, on December 11. Responding to the attacks, Pakistan condemned the “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing” and said that “such unfortunate incidents are not in keeping with the brotherly ties between the two countries”.
- The attack killed six Pakistani civilians and injured 17 others. On Afghanistan’s side, one Taliban fighter was killed and 10 were wounded. Three civilians were also injured, a Taliban official added.
- Akhtar Mohammad, a senior doctor at the main government hospital in Chaman, told VOA by phone they had received bodies of six civilians and 21 injured. He said that seven people among the injured were “in critical condition” and moved to a hospital in the provincial capital, Quetta.
- The Pakistani military statement said that Taliban border security forces had “opened unprovoked and indiscriminate fire of heavy weapons, including artillery/mortars” against Pakistani civilian areas. The statement said Pakistani troops staged a “befitting albeit measured response” against “the uncalled-for aggression but avoided targeting innocent civilians in the area.”
- In Afghanistan, a spokesman for Kandahar’s governor, Attaullah Zaid, appeared to link the clashes between Pakistani and Taliban forces with the construction of new checkpoints on the Afghan side of the border.
- Pakistan authorities stated, “The Afghan authorities have been informed that recurrence of such incidents must be avoided and strictest possible action must be taken against those responsible.” It remained the responsibility of both sides to protect civilians along the border, the foreign office said.
- The Afghan-Pakistan border is called the Durand Line, where Spin Boldak is on the Afghan side while Chaman is on the Pakistani side. On Monday, Spin Boldak crossing in Kandahar reopened after it had been closed following the clashes.
- Residents on Paksitani’s side of the border said there were a number of explosions followed by rapid gunfire.
- Mohammad Sadiq, Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan said that his government has sent a message to the Taliban that such an incident should not be repeated.
- Even, Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif tweeted on Monday that Taliban must guarantee that the border incident will not be repeated. Sharif has called the incident unfortunate.
Why it matters? The clash between the Taliban army and the Pakistan military has been a recurring incident. As tensions along international borders remain intact, both sides traded barbs in November 2022. The Chaman/ Spin Boldak border crossing is referred to as the ‘Friendship Gate’ and both the Taliban and Pakistan have often tabled complaints of alleged encroachment.
Back story: Last month, one Pakistani soldier was killed and two others were wounded in an exchange of fire at Chaman border crossing which prompted authorities to seal the key border crossing for more than a week.
- Earlier this month, the compound of the Pakistani embassy in Kabul came under attack.
Zoom out: Of late relations between Taliban and Pakistan have been hitting roadblocks one after another. Taliban used to also hold talks between the Pakistan Taliban and Pakistani government in order to facilitate peace, however, the ceasefire forged too has been disturbed. Islamabad also has said that Taliban rulers are sheltering fighters from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) armed group, which carries out deadly attacks on its soil.
- Trade also had been affected due to cross-border skirmishes between both the countries due to frequent commercial blockages and many people too have been left stranded who intend to cross the border between the two countries.
- The current spate of violence on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border also proves that the recent visit by Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul to meet with her Taliban counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi may not have yielded desired results.
- Overall, even though Pakistan had not recognised the Taliban government officially, it had been one of the supportive governments of the regime ever since it seized power in August 2021. However, now things look like they are standing on rocky grounds as the number of cross-border clashes and terrorists attacks are increasing on a daily basis between the two “brotherly nations”.