Monday May 20, 2024

Afghan forces resume firing at Chaman border

Pakistani troops gave a “befitting” but “measured response” and avoided targeting the civilians on the other side

By Mariana Baabar & News Desk
December 16, 2022
The Afghan security forces targeted the civilian population on December 15, 2022. Screengrab of a Twitter video
The Afghan security forces targeted the civilian population on December 15, 2022. Screengrab of a Twitter video

ISLAMABAD: One person was killed and 12 others were wounded on the Pakistani side of the border in Chaman during an intense firing by the Afghan security forces for the second time on Thursday.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the incident was “uncalled-for aggression” and Pakistani troops gave a “befitting” but “measured response” and avoided targeting the civilians on the other side.

“We have received certain assurances and we hope those assurances will be fulfilled. Discussions are ongoing between the two sides at various levels,“ said the Foreign Office spokeswoman Mumtaz Zahra Baloch during the weekly presser here.

However, it appears that Pakistan is still not satisfied enough with the security situation, especially in Kabul, because its Chargé d’Affaires Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani has yet not returned to Pakistan’s Mission in Afghanistan.

“We are in contact with the Afghan authorities and are closely following the situation there. We are also working to ensure the safety and security of our diplomats and our missions in Afghanistan. Our chargé d’affaires will stay here until the consultation processes are complete,” she said.

To several queries, the spokeswoman said all issues of concern had been taken up with the interim Afghan government.

“During the recent visit of State Minister for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar to Afghanistan, all these issues were discussed with Afghan side in detail and in all meetings. We are engaged with Afghanistan at all levels. I would also like to reiterate what the minister of state said yesterday that Pakistan does not conduct its foreign policy through the media. We believe in getting results and we believe in finding solutions. We think when there is a need to make public pronouncements, public statements should be made and when there is need for dialogue, dialogue should take place,” she explained.

The spokeswoman shrugged aside comments that a Pashtun diplomat should have accompanied the minister of state to Kabul, as she did not speak the Afghan language.

“I would not like to comment on statements by public officials in this matter. I would just like to highlight that the visit of Minister of State Hina Rabbani Khar was very successful. It gave us an opportunity to convey our viewpoint and discuss all issues of concern and interest to Pakistan. There are modes of communication in meeting with officials of any country. Even when there is a language barrier, there are ways to communicate and get over the language barrier. I do not believe that in our various interactions with Afghanistan, our message was lost; there was clear communication by both sides“, she said.

The spokeswoman confirmed reports that had been ignored by the Foreign Office all these months that at times payments and salaries to its diplomats were delayed.

”There is a process under which the Government of Pakistan allocates salaries and other financial support to our missions. These steps sometimes involve occasional delays. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance have been closely engaged in order to resolve these issues. I would also like to add that these efforts have borne results and missions have started receiving funds. It is the policy of the Government of Pakistan to ensure a smooth functioning of the Pakistani missions abroad, and all relevant departments of the government are committed towards this objective. Pakistani diplomats and missions abroad remain committed to representing Pakistan and performing their functions,” she said.

Geo adds: According to the local administration, the border area is being evacuated after clashes and an emergency has been declared at the DHQ Chaman.

Medical Superintendent Dr Malik Achakzai said at least 12 people were under treatment at the health facility.

Levies officials reported that multiple artillery rounds were fired upon the civilian population around the Boghra Road and Customs House areas from the Afghan side. They added that the Pakistani forces gave a befitting response to the Afghan shelling.

Chaman deputy commissioner said emergency had been declared at the hospital, adding that the citizens had been asked to evacuate from Mall Road, Boghra Road bypass, and Border Road.

Authorities said the clashes broke out during the repair of fence in the Sheikh Lal Muhammad sector of the border.

This is the second time in five days that the Afghan border forces opened unprovoked and indiscriminate fire, using heavy weapons, in the Chaman civilian area.