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Tensions On Torkham Border : Can Afghanistan Be Bullied

RPS Bhadauria writes: Pakistan must realise that Afghanistan too has sovereign rights to defend its borders and cannot be bullied even by a nuclear power – Pakistan.

Fresh clashes between security forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan across the Torkham Border erupted on 12 Jun over the construction of a new border post on the Pakistani side. According to the Dawn, the Pakistan Army has moved heavy weaponry and additional troops to the Afghan border.ANI sources  have reported that  firing between the two forces first broke out on Sunday at the crossing, about 45 km west of Peshawar, over the construction of a new border post on the Pakistani side. The Torkham Border has long been porous and disputed with Afghanistan blocking repeated attempts by Pakistan to build a fence on sections of the roughly 2,200-km-long frontier, rejecting the contours of the boundary.

Durand Line is a notorious frontier between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Some people blame this frontier for all of Afghanistan’s current problems.In 1907, Lord Curzon speaking on “Frontiers” at University of Oxford had said “Frontiers are the chief anxiety of nearly every Foreign Office in the civilised world… They are moreover the razor’s edge on which hang suspended the modern issues of war or peace, of life or death to nations.”  It is widely accepted that Durand Line is a classic example of an artificial political boundary cutting through a culture area which has caused tremendous amount of bad feeling between Pakistan and Afghanistan. In 1948 Afghanistan voted against Pakistan joining the United Nations. Pakistan delayed Afghan import and export goods on the border. Afghan radio called for independence for Pashtunistan. In 1949 Pakistan inadvertently attacked Afghanistan territory by air, a skirmish followed; the cycle of clashes has not stopped since then.

Pakistan sees Afghanistan as a hinterland which it wants to control as strategic depth, in an eventuality of a war with India over Kashmir, a flawed concept. The unspoken strategy however is controlling Kabul and denying India access to Afghanistan. In 1980s Pakistan used the tribal areas as a point for launching the Mujahedin into Afghanistan. Again in the 1990s, its isolation made it the perfect place, not only to host those engaged in the fight for independence in Kashmir, but also to train the Taliban before they moved to control most of Afghanistan.  Pakistan is now realising that the area has become a well of religious fanaticism as much opposed to the Pakistani government as it is to the Afghan government. The assassination attempts made on former President Musharraf appeared to have been planned in the tribal areas in South Waziristan. Hillary Clinton had rightly remarked that “It’s like that old story – you can’t keep snakes in your backyard and expect them only to bite your neighbours. Eventually those snakes are going to turn on whoever has them in the backyard”.

Pakistan must realise that Afghanistan too has sovereign rights to defend its borders and cannot be bullied even by a nuclear power – Pakistan.

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