Pakistan calls for Afghan action as soldier killed in border fire

Pakistan demands action against armed groups ‘finding sanctuaries’ in Afghanistan, a day after a Pakistani soldier was killed in a cross-border attack.

Pakistan soldiers
Pakistani soldiers stand guard on the Pakistan-Afghan border [File: Akhter Gulfam/EPA]

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan has called on the Afghan government to take action against armed groups “finding sanctuaries” in that country, a day after a Pakistani soldier was killed in a cross-border attack in the northwest frontier between the two nations.

Pakistan foreign ministry spokesman Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri on Thursday said the soldier had been killed by firing across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border that targeted a military post in Pakistan’s northwestern Mohmand district.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for activities against Pakistan,” said Chaudhri.

“Pakistan calls upon the government of Afghanistan to take immediate action against the terrorists and terrorist groups finding sanctuaries in Afghanistan to target Pakistani security forces.”

Pakistani military forces responded to the firing, said a brief military statement on the incident, but there was no confirmation on any casualties inflicted on the attackers.

The rebuke from Pakistan comes as Afghan government negotiators are resuming peace talks with the Taliban in the Qatari capital of Doha this week.

The talks in Doha resume even as violence continues to rage in Afghanistan, with at least five journalists and the deputy governor of the capital Kabul killed in a series of attacks since November.

The Taliban has denied responsibility for the attacks, while the government says the armed group has been acting in bad faith as negotiations continue.

On the agenda in Doha will be the drawing up of a plan for post-war Afghanistan and an attempt to establish a nationwide ceasefire.

The first round of the talks, which began in September, ended last month after the two sides agreed to the procedural rules for moving forward.

The talks will also cover the disarming of tens of thousands of Taliban fighters and militias loyal to tribal leaders, including those aligned with both sides, as well as the rights of minorities and women in post-war Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Pakistan welcomed the resumption of peace talks in Doha, which Islamabad has helped facilitate alongside the United States and other regional powers.

“We hope that the two negotiating teams would continue to engage with open-mind and will observe patience, prudence and perseverance to seize this historic opportunity for peace,” read a Pakistani foreign office statement released on Wednesday.

“We call upon both sides to remain constructively engaged and show flexibility in the negotiations for reaching an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement which would lead to lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan.”

No clear responsibility was ascribed by Pakistani officials for the attack on the Pakistani military post in Mohmand district on Wednesday, but such attacks have previously been carried out by the Pakistan Taliban, an armed group known by the acronym TTP that supports the Taliban in Afghanistan and has been fighting Pakistan’s security forces since 2007.

Operations by the Pakistani military in 2014 displaced TTP from its erstwhile strongholds in northwestern Pakistan into eastern Afghanistan.

Asad Hashim is Al Jazeera’s digital correspondent in Pakistan. He tweets @AsadHashim.

Source: Al Jazeera