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Political Motives behind Torkham border Clashes

Raj Kumar Sharma writes: Pakistan has closed border with Afghanistan numerous times in in past as well, mainly to arm twist the Afghan government to convey its displeasure over their policies.

There have been clashes between Afghanistan and Pakistan security forces at the Torkham border crossing since June 12. Located on the Durans Line, Torkham is one of the busiest border crossings between the two countries that connects Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province with Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan.[1] The clashes broke out over construction of a new border post by Pakistan which was not acceptable to Afghan security forces. Pakistan has shut the border crossing which is causing hardships to millions of Pashtuns living on both sides of the Durand Line. From June 1, Pakistan had imposed new border controls with Afghanistan making it mandatory for Afghans to have valid passport and visa to enter Pakistan. The Torkham crossing is used by around 15,000 people daily and Pakistan officials say that new border controls would apply to other crossings too which aim to curb movement of militants.[2] However, these measures have come at a time when Pakistan and the US are drifting in their Afghanistan policy while India’s presence in Afghanistan is not going down well with the Pakistan authorities.

Torkham

Source: The Economist

Pakistan has closed border with Afghanistan numerous times in in past as well, mainly to arm twist the Afghan government to convey its displeasure over their policies. The recent killing of former Taliban chief, Mullah Mansoor by the US in Balochistan has exposed Pakistan once again and its dual game in Afghanistan, where it participates in the peace talks but also uses Taliban leadership as a bargaining chip to safeguard its interests. Frustrated with Pakistan, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani signed a trilateral agreement with India and Iran which will provide Afghanistan access to sea through Chabahar port in Iran. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently visited Afghanistan and inaugurated India-Afghanistan Friendship dam (Salma Dam) in Herat province. India’s nation building projects in Afghanistan are seen as security threats by Pakistan which now seems to be using the border controls to bully Afghan government. These border controls could also help Pakistan in legitimizing the Durand Line which is not acceptable to Afghanistan. That is why; the Afghan forces have retaliated to unilateral moves by Pakistan which is their right to defend their sovereignty. Instead of showing sincere efforts to stabilize Afghanistan and bringing Taliban to negotiating table, Pakistan has been indulging in behavior typical of a regional bully.

Endnotes

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Torkham

[2] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-36438575

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