Border skirmishes: Kabul, Islamabad trade blame at UN
WASHINGTON (Pajhwok): Pakistan is indulging in unnecessary provocative actions at the Torkham border, posing a threat to international peace, a top Afghan diplomat told the UN Security Council on Tuesday.
Pakistan had stepped up illegal construction of military installations, abuse of Afghan nationals and restrictions on trade, Afghan Ambassador Mahmoud Saikal said during the Security Council’s debate on Afghanistan.
“In the past three months, the violation of our sovereignty and territorial integrity continued, with over 820 instances of artillery shelling of our eastern provinces of Nangarhar, Khost, Paktika, Kunar and Nuristan, causing civilian casualties and material loss,” Saikal alleged.
Most recently, he claimed, in contravention of bilaterally agreed consultation mechanisms, the neighbour attempted to build new infrastructure at the Torkham Pass, provoking a needless clash.
“The situation, a threat to international peace and security, remains tense with a devastating impact on trade and transit,” the diplomat told members of the Security Council.
But Pakistani Ambassador Maleeha Lodhirejected the allegations as “untrue” and “gratuitous”.She recalled last month’s US drone attack that killed Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour had dealt a blow to the Afghan peace process.
That attack had been a breach of the principles of the United Nations Charter and international law, she charged.Ultimately, she continued, it was the responsibility of the Afghan government to deliver on commitments made to its people.
“Effective border management is the sovereign right of my country,” she insisted, stressing there was nothing illegal about any construction on Pakistan’s side of the frontier.
She urged Afghanistan to avoid externalising its problems by blaming others, and underscored the need for a political solution that would require compromise on both sides.
US Deputy Permanent Representative Michele Sisonsaid the United States will maintain 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through most of this year and 5,500 thereafter, located at a small number of bases, including at Bagram, Jalalabad in the east, and Kandahar in the south.
“We will also continue to provide financial support for Afghan forces. We encourage all other donors to the Afghan security forces to do the same. Afghanistan has requested that donors renew their funding for the Afghan forces at, or near, current levels through 2020. We urge donors to do so at, or ahead, of next month’s NATO Summit in Warsaw,” Sison said.
The strike against Mullah Mansur should serve as a clear signal to the Taliban that US is prepared to take action against those who plan to potentially harm U.S. personnel and who continue to oppose peace, the American diplomat said.
“It is, however, not indicative of a change in policy and doesn’t foreshadow a new military initiative. The US remains committed to encouraging a peace process between the Afghan government and the Taliban, and we view such a process as the only avenue to end the war,” Sison said.
“There is no military solution to the conflict. The Taliban must understand that they can only achieve their goals, including the withdrawal of international military forces, through a peace process that leads to a negotiated settlement.”
Nicholas Haysom, special representative of the secretary-general for Afghanistan, said despite persistent political, economic and security challenges, Afghanistan could make significant strides toward peace and stability in 2016.
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