Pakistan Accuses Afghan Forces Of 'Indiscriminate Firing' At Its Posts On Torkham Border

Foreign Office says border was closed in wake of 'extreme cases', exhorts Kabul to prevent terrorists from using its soil as launching pad against neighbours

Pakistan Accuses Afghan Forces Of 'Indiscriminate Firing' At Its Posts On Torkham Border

Islamabad on Monday accused Afghan forces of "indiscriminate firing" at Pakistani positions at the Torkham Border apart from constructing on Pakistani territory last week.

This was stated in a communique issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch on Monday in response to a statement issued by the Afghan foreign ministry last week.

"Pakistan cannot accept the construction of any structures by Interim Afghan Government inside its territory since these violate its sovereignty," Baloch said, adding that instead of peacefully resolving the issue, Afghan troops "resorted to indiscriminate firing, targeting Pakistan military posts, damaging the infrastructure at the Torkham Border Terminal, and putting the lives of both Pakistani and Afghan civilians at risk, when they were stopped from erecting such unlawful structures."

Baloch added that "such unprovoked and indiscriminate firing on Pakistani border posts cannot be justified under any circumstances."

Such actions by Afghan border security forces, she said, embolden terrorist elements. 

"These elements are enjoying sanctuaries inside Afghanistan as confirmed by the UN Security Council's Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team in its latest report," Islamabad pointed out.

The comments came in response to the Afghan statement; Baloch termed it a "surprise", adding that Kabul knew full well the reasons for temporarily closing the Torkham border.

"The statement of the Afghan Ministry of Foreign Affairs also includes some irrelevant comments and unsolicited advice about Pakistan's economy and foreign trade," Baloch observed. 

Refuting allegations levelled by Kabul, Baloch reminded that for several decades, Pakistan has facilitated Afghan transit trade and will continue to do so. However, "Pakistan cannot allow the misuse of the transit trade agreement."

On the closure of the border, Baloch said Pakistan wishes the border with Afghanistan to be "a border of peace and amity between the two countries".

"Pakistan has continued to exercise restraint and prioritize dialogue in the face of persistent unwarranted provocations by Afghan troops deployed along the Pakistan-Afghanistan Border," she said, explaining that the border is temporarily closed when incidents such as those of September 6, 2023, take place or when Afghan soil is used to launch terror attacks inside Pakistan -- the later a veiled reference to the massive cross-border infiltration by terrorists in Chitral.

Islamabad offered to resolve all bilateral issues and concerns through constructive dialogue so that both countries could reap the dividends of economic connectivity and resultant prosperity. 

"We expect the Afghan interim authorities to be mindful of Pakistan's concerns, respect the territorial integrity of Pakistan and ensure that the Afghan territory is not used as a launching pad for terrorist attacks against Pakistan."

Afghan statement

In a statement issued last week, Afghanistan expressed concerns over the continued closure of the Torkham Border and of Pakistani troops firing at Afghan border security forces, adding that the action was "contrary to good neighbourliness".

"The government of Pakistan closed Torkham gate last Wednesday following firing by Pakistani security forces on Afghan security forces as they were carrying out repair work on an old security post constructed several years ago," Kabul claimed.

"As a large number of people (women, elderly and children), including funerals, are stranded on both sides of Torkham, the closure of the gate cannot be justified under any circumstances," it added.

Afghanistan used the closure of the gate as an opportunity to raise several issues with the Afghan Transit Trade and its impact on the health of Afghanistan's economy. 

"The closure of Torkham gate can adversely affect bilateral and regional trade, and cause trade and financial losses to common mercantile class on both sides," the statement said, as it pointed to how a truck transporting figs to India via Wagah border was allegedly torched at a police check post.

This move, Afghanistan said, was "engendering grave concern and mistrust."

It further pointed to the issues containers imported by Afghanistan face at the Karachi port.

"Pakistani side often creates hindrances at Karachi port and closes crossing points under unjustified pretexts during the advent of Afghan agricultural and fruits season which not only harms bilateral trade but also fosters distance between the fraternal people and countries, while creating impediments and delays for regional trade and transit."

Kabul reminded the Pakistani side that "such actions are also detrimental to the trade of Afghanistan, region and national economy of Pakistan, which is currently dependent on exports more than ever."

It called for peacefully seeking solutions to this problem while promoting regional trade, transit and economic growth while not allowing political or other issues to undermine economic trade and the free movement of people.