Issue Brief on “Pakistan-Afghan Border: Need to End the Blame Game”

In an effort to ease tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the British government facilitated the ‘first high-level interaction’ between the two neighbours on March 15, 2017[i] since tensions escalated after a wave of terrorist attacks hit Pakistan in February 2017, including the suicide attack on Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine in Sehwan which left 80 people dead. As a result of the attacks, in order to secure its border, Pakistan deployed additional FC troops along its border with Afghanistan and also closed its border with Afghanistan at Torkham and Chaman.[ii]

The meeting in London took place between Pakistan’s Adviser on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz and Afghan National Security Adviser (NSA) Haneef Atmar and the British National Security Adviser, Mark Lyall Grant. During the Pak-Afghan advisers’ meeting, issues related to border violations, closure of the border and exchange of the lists of wanted militants were discussed. Soon after the talks, both Pakistan and Afghanistan cited ‘incremental progress’ and agreed to take ‘tangible’ confidence building measures related to each other’s concerns. In a post, Dr Omar Zakhilwal, Afghan ambassador to Pakistan, noted that the meeting was held, “to discuss and agree on a mechanism for genuine bilateral cooperation on fighting terrorism, agree on steps and measures to improve the current tense bilateral relations and mutual trust. We are positive that the implementation of the mechanism we agreed upon can inject the needed trust and confidence for constructive forward-looking state-to-state relations and cooperation.”[iii]

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