A barrage of cross border shelling by the Pakistani Armed Forces targeting the Afghan province of Kunar, has invited criticism from the Afghan government officials and from the NATO representatives. Afghan officials claimed that Pakistani shelling has resulted in the death of four Afghans this week, and said that more than 300 pieces of artillery and rockets were fired in to their territory from across the border.
Local media sources reported that the attack is the Pakistani response to the killing of several of its soldiers and pro-government militiamen in the Bajaur and Orakzai Agencies, by Taliban militants based in Kunar. Pakistan had previously accused the Afghan authorities and the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) of failing to act against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, who founded new bases in the Kunar province after being driven out of Pakistan.
The ISAF officials issued a strongly worded protest against the incident, stating that it “condemns the attacks across the Durand line”. The ISAF officials added that they will consult both the Pakistani and Afghan defence officials, to find a resolution to the clashes.
The Afghan authorities pointed out that Pakistan had violated the border last month also. They claimed that thousands of civilians are displaced as a result of the indiscriminate shelling by the Pak forces. The Afghan Ministry of Defence has issued a statement, claiming that it will organize talks between the two warring sides in the Afghan city of Jalalabad, which is close to the Pakistani border. The response from Pakistan is still awaited.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has denied the accusations by the Afghan authorities that it had fired indiscriminately on the Afghan side. Pak officials said that the army responded with small arms and artillery fire, only when they were provoked by the militants from the other side. The authorities claimed that more than 15 cross-border attacks has so far been carried out by the Afghan based militants during the past 12 months, against the Pakistani military installations in the region.