Need to resolve differences
Pak-Afghan relations have further deteriorated after Kabul signed the Chabahar Port agreement with India and Iran. They hit rock bottom on Sunday. Firing between the two sides injured two security personnel and nine civilians on the Pakistani side whereas the Afghan government claimed it lost a border guard while six of them were injured. According to Afghan officials the clash took place after Pakistan border police wanted to build installations at Torkham without prior consultation with Afghan authorities. This, they insist, is a mandatory requirement under an agreement between the two countries. An earlier standoff at Torkham, which took place some four weeks back, was resolved peacefully after the Afghan ambassador called on Gen Raheel Sharif. This time it led to the spilling of blood, imposition of curfew on the Pakistani side and fears that the incidents might be precursors of more widespread clashes.
That relations started taking a sinister turn after the Chabahar agreement was indicated by a press conference addressed by the Balochistan home minister within days of the signing on the agreement. Sarfraz Bugti claimed having arrested six Afghan spies and said the Afghan refugees had a choice either to leave peacefully or be pushed out by the people of Balochistan. The two sides have now drawn blood also.
Neither Pakistan nor Afghanistan can afford to live in hostility for long. The discord among them can only help terrorists who operate from remote areas on both sides of the Durand Line. The two countries share over 2,000km long border with the same tribes living astride it. The physical proximity explains the presence of nearly three million registered and unregistered Afghan refugees in Pakistan. Both sides stand to gain from peace and have a lot to lose in case of hostility. Pakistan being the larger neighbour, there is a need on its part to ignore minor pinpricks and act graciously when dealing with Afghanistan. Both the countries need to avoid use of force or the threat of use of force. Differences have to be resolved through talks.