At least nine people were killed and over 40 others injured as Afghan border forces opened fire on security personnel guarding a census team in Balochistan’s Chaman area early Friday. Five children and three women were killed while four Frontier Corps (FC) personnel are among the injured. Later in the day, an exchange of fire was reported at two check posts at Torkham Border between Pakistan and Afghan armed forces.
After the incident, Army’s media wing said that exchange of firing was stopped when director generals of military operations of both armies established hotline contact. ISPR disclosed that Afghan authorities were informed in advance about the census exercise in Pakistan and coordination was carried out through diplomatic and military channels. After the infamous incident, Foreign Office (FO) also summoned the Afghan chargé d’affaires to lodge a protest against the cross-border attack. The FO urged the Afghan government to take action against those responsible for the violation. FO spokesperson Zakaria said that the census team “was fulfilling its duties in the area and the exercise was taking place within the jurisdiction of Pakistan.”
Governor of Afghanistan’s Kandahar province, in a statement said that one Afghan civilian and three border police forces personnel were also wounded in the exchange of fire. He further claimed that Pakistani officials had strayed on to the Afghan side of the border and were attempting to count people living there.
Incident is strongly condemnable, particularly after knowing the fact, that at the time of unprovoked firing, Pakistani villagers and security forces were well within the territory of Pakistan. After recent visit of high-level delegation of Pakistani parliamentarians to Afghanistan, it was being expected that visit will lead to ease tensions in bilateral relations. But the incident of unprovoked firing has further tensed the relations. Afghan authorities need to understand that dialogue is the only available option for both countries to establish peace in the region and to solve bilateral issues. Using force and opting for hostilities would further deteriorate the situation. Incident should properly be investigated in order to make sure that such infamous incidents could never take place again.
Afghan authorities must understand that dialogue is the only available option to establish peace in already instable Afghanistan.