Border clashes between Pakistan and Afghanistan killed at least 13 people and wounded more than 80 others on Friday (5th May 2017) in a disputed area. The firing was started by Afghanistan says Pakistan after a Pak population census team visited two villages claimed by Afghanistan as its territory. The clashes happened at the Spin Boldak near the Durand Line earlier this morning.
Pakistan was quick to point fingers at Afghanistan and claimed that the latter ‘was creating hurdles’ in the work.
It also said that this firing was done despite the fact that Afghan authorities had been informed well in advance, and coordination was carried out through diplomatic and military channels to conduct the census.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office Spokesperson Nafees Zakaria expressed concerns over the firing and claimed that the border between the two countries is clearly demarcated and he also said that ‘Pakistani teams were conducting the census drive in its own area which is our sovereign right.’
Afghanistan too suffered serious casualties. The Voice of America has reported that Afghan regional police chief, General Abdul Raziq, told it that the fighting left four of its border guards dead and wounded 37 people, including 14 from the security forces.
The Afghan police chief said that the Pakistani authorities were warned by Afghan counterparts to not conduct any activity in the divided villages as they are part of Afghanistan.
VOA quoted him as saying:
“We had alerted our border police and also warned Pakistan that if they undertook any activity [in this area] it would cost them a big price.”
He further noted that despite these warnings, the Pakistani troops and military vehicles tried to enter the divided villages early Friday morning to “occupy our land,” but they were prevented from doing so, he added.
VOA quoted General Raziq on the situation of these two villages. Raziq said that with a total population of around 15,000 people, these villages are located at the “zero point of the Durand Line and a large number of them are enrolled in the Afghan border force.”
— Khawaja Talha (@KhawajaTalha) May 5, 2017
While some dragged India, like always, into this:
— Saad Ussam (@Zarb_A_Pakistan) May 5, 2017
Firing on Bdr & not visiting to Pakistan reflects that Afghanistan taking dictation from India #AfgBeingIndianproxy
— M. Faisal Abbasi (@MFaisalAbbasi) May 5, 2017
While the bloodbath between Afghanistan and Pakistan and anti-India rants are going on, the famous Friendship Gate at the Chaman border crossing has again been shut down. This is the third time in less than 1 one year when this iconic gate has been shut down. In February, this year it was closed by Pakistan which claimed that terrorists were launching attacks through this gate.
Before that, last year too, it was shut down when the Afghans rejoicing over 97th Independence Day (18th August 2016) marched through the streets till the Af-Pak border where Pakistani crowd was chanting against Narendra Modi. Angry at this, Afghans pelted stones and burnt down Pakistani flag after snatching the Pak flag from the hands of a Pakistani protestor. The resulting commotion led to the shutdown of the Friendship Gate which finally was reopened on September 1st, 2016. The incident did not get much coverage in India but it did show that in some ways Pakistanis are right; Afghans prefer India over it and trying to squeeze Afghanistan by shutting down the Friendship gate is not going to help it either.
By Namta Gupta
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