Pakistan Military Denies It Intentionally Targets Afghan Territory
Phillip Ittner | Islamabad June 27, 2011
Pakistani officials are denying allegations by Afghan President Hamid Karzai that the Pakistani military is routinely firing artillery into on Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials deny Karzai allegations
Pakistani military officials say that they are not intentionally firing into Afghan territory, but some munitions may have crossed the border as the Pakistani army chased militants into Afghanistan.
Army Spokesman General Athar Abbas says there is no telling if those shots landed on Afghan territory, but says Pakistan has been pursuing militants using that territory to repeatedly attack Pakistani border posts.
"Militants have been attacking our check posts. And a number of incidents, about five major engagements. So maybe when the militants were escaping back to the border, in engaging them a few rounds would have accidently gone across. That possibility cannot be ruled out," Abbas stated.
Long accused of allowing safe havens on its side of the border, Pakistan in recent weeks has begun reversing the accusations and saying that as NATO forces withdraw from Afghan territory it leaves a security vacuum that anti-Pakistani government militants are using to launch cross-border attacks.
Karzai assess damage, issues warning
Speaking Sunday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said during the past three weeks approximately 470 missiles had landed in Afghanistan’s border provinces from Pakistan. The Afghan president said 36 people, including children, have died as a result.
Karzai says he has discussed this with Pakistani and NATO leadership and warned of consequences if the incidents continue.
Talks between NATO, Afghanistan and Pakistan are being conducted in Kabul this week in an effort to bring to a close the hostilities that have been ongoing for nearly 10 years - in line with U.S. President Barack Obama’s announcement that some American forces will shortly begin to withdraw.
Speaking in Kabul, NATO spokesman General Josef Blotz said there are lines of communications open between all parties; Afghanistan, Pakistan, and NATO - because insurgents can and do cross the border. "There is a so-called tripartite mechanism addressing issues like coordination of operations, but also issues like incidents on the common border because we have a common enemy crossing this border," he said.
Pakistani forces are increasingly fighting their own insurgency in the frontier areas. International pressure to step up that fight has met with reluctance, Islamabad says its military is stretched thin and stirring up certain areas could overwhelm its capabilities.
And strained relations with NATO forces is adding to the difficulty. Reports in the British press say Pakistan has expelled 18 British military trainers. This is in addition to dozens of U.S. military trainers Pakistan has expelled in the fallout from the May 2nd raid that killed Osama Bin Laden.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|