Afghanistan–Pakistan skirmishes

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Afghanistan-Pakistan skirmishes
Part of Taliban insurgency and Terrorism in Pakistan
Date 2 July 2003 - Present
Location Eastern Afghanistan and North-Western Pakistan, along the Durand Line
Status On-going (occasional reports)
Belligerents
 Afghanistan

Afghan National Security Forces


 United States
 Pakistan

Pakistan Army, Pakistan Air Force,

Frontier Corps
Commanders and leaders
Ashraf Ghani
(President of Afghanistan)
Abdullah Abdullah
(Prime Minister of Afghanistan)
Bismillah Mohammadi
(Defence Minister)
Mohammad Daudzai
(Interior Minister)
Sher Karimi
(Chief of Staff, ANA)
Barack Obama
(President of the United States)
Mamnoon Hussain
(President of Pakistan)
Nawaz Sharif
(Prime Minister of Pakistan)
Gen Rashad Mahmood
(Chairman joint chiefs)
Gen Raheel Sharif
(Chief of Army Staff)
Adm Muhammad Zakaullah
(Chief of Naval Staff)
ACM Tahir Rafique
(Chief of Air Staff)
Units involved
Afghan National Security Forces North-Western Command
Strength
Unknown 140,000

The Afghanistan–Pakistan skirmishes are cross-border shellings that have occurred since 1949 along the Durand Line border between the Pakistan military forces, paramilitary forces and the Afghan National Security Forces. The latest hostility began in mid-2003 around Khost Province in Afghanistan[1] and continued until 2013 after a dozen missiles were reportedly fired from Pakistan that killed an Afghan woman and wounded several others in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan.[2]

The cross-border shellings intensified in 2011 and 2012 with many reports from different occasions claiming that Pakistani missiles have hit civilian areas inside Afghanistan's Nuristan Province, Kunar Province and Nangarhar Province. Most of this is related to the United States drone attacks in Pakistan from the Afghan side, the Taliban insurgency and the fact that the border has never been properly marked.[3][4]

Background[edit]

The Durand Line between Afghanistan and Pakistan (in red)

Since Pakistan's independence in 1947, Afghanistan has always refused to indorse the 1893 Durand Line Agreement in recognizing the Durand Line as its international border with Pakistan. The single-page Durand Line Agreement was inherited by Pakistan after the end of British rule in 1947. Afghanistan has several times tried to seize Pakistan's western provinces of Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Afghanistan has also historically been suspected of being involved in sheltering and aiding separatist movements in the Balochistan province.[5]

Pakistan's government, particularly its Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI),[6] slowly became involved in the affairs of Afghanistan since the 1970s.[7]

The cross-border attacks have been occurring occasionally since 1949 when Pakistani military bombed an Afghan village while repelling Afghan attacks. The Durand Line border cuts in the middle of the warring and difficult to rule Pashtun tribes who live on both sides. They make up the largest ethnic group in Afghanistan and the second largest in Pakistan. In the early 1960s, some Afghan Pashtun nationalists tried to press for an independent state to be called Pashtunistan but the idea became unpopular.[8] Even before the independence of Pakistan, the areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Federally Administered Tribal Areas and Balochistan have been used as a frontier to defend British India from possible military incursions from the Iranian monarchy and Afghanistan, especially the powerful Soviet Union of the north.

The 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan forced millions of Afghans to take refuge inside Pakistan's western frontier region and in Iran. Leaders of Pakistan feared that the Soviet Union began some kind of military show down and that Pakistan or at least its Balochistan province was next on the Soviet's agenda. During the early 1980s, multi-national mujahideen forces (consisting of about 100,000 fighters from forty different Muslim countries in addition to 150,000 local fighters) found support from the United States, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Iran in the context of the Cold War. They were trained by Pakistani military in its frontier region around the Durand Line.[9] The Soviet Union decided to withdraw in 1989 and when aid dried up on Afghanistan in 1992 a civil war began. This was followed by the rise and fall of the Taliban government. Since late 2001, as high as 140,000 NATO-led troops were stationed in Afghanistan to train Afghans and rebuild their war-torn country. In the meantime, the Taliban insurgency began around 2004 with militants mostly from the Durand Line areas attacking Afghanistan.[10][11] To counter the insurgency and bring stability in Afghanistan, the United States built bases and garrisons for the Afghan National Security Forces, and is using unmanned aerial vehicles to hit alleged safe havens of terrorists in Pakistan, mainly the Haqqani network in and around the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).

Beginning of recent border hostilities[edit]

Helicopter of Pakistan Army
Helicopter of the Afghan Air Force flying over a river in Kunar Province of Afghanistan.

Missile shellings between Pakistani and Afghan forces erupted when the Pakistani army attempted to position its forces in the mountains of Goyee area in Jaji district of Paktia province in Afghanistan, General Zahir Azimi, Afghan Defense Ministry spokesman, told a press conference.[12] At around 9:00 AM local time on Sunday 13 May 2007, Afghanistan launched attacks towards five or six Pakistani military positions in the Kurram tribal region in northwest Pakistan.[12] At the same time, Afghanistan accuses Pakistani military ground contingent crossed the border more than a mile into Afghanistan's Paktia province and killed two Afghan civilians. Gen. Azimi also accused the Pakistani military of using artillery, saying the alleged attack was a clear violation.[13] The Pakistan military spokesman Maj. Gen. Waheed Arshad denied Pakistani forces had crossed the border and instead accused the Afghan National Army of firing on Pakistani positions, and called the firing "unprovoked and without any reason." He further stated that Pakistani forces returned fire only after being attacked by the Afghan National Army and that seven Afghan soldiers had been killed whilst three Pakistani soldiers had been wounded, with the official count states seven Afghan soldiers died.[12]

General Azimi stated that Pakistani troops had not only crossed into Afghanistan but that they attempted to position themselves permanently in the Jaji district of Paktia province. He further stated that two of the Afghan civilians killed were children and that two policeman of the Afghan National Police were also injured. The police chief for Paktia province, Abdul Rahman Sarjang, stated that one policeman was killed and three were wounded. Gen. Azimi also stated that thousands of local men from Paktia joined the Afghan army and fired on Pakistani military helicopters operating on Afghan territory. Pakistan responded to the fighting with artillery fire into Afghanistan.

Timeline of events[edit]

The following is a partial list of events relating to the Afghanistan–Pakistan skirmishes. Most of these events cannot be independently verified because news journalists usually have very limited access to reaching the areas where the fightings take place. It is very difficult for journalists to reach these dangerous areas and the militaries usually do not allow them. It should be noted that the main insurgent groups fighting with government forces in these areas are Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which Pakistan feels is being supported by elements inside Afghanistan, and the Haqqani network which Afghanistan and NATO feel is being supported by Pakistani elements. The claimed agenda of these groups is to establish a completely independent Islamic rule in their areas based on strict Sharia law.

  • 13 May 2007 - Afghan soldiers attacked Pakistani military outposts which they claimed were illegally built on Afghan soil, killing 8 Pakistani soldiers. Pakistan's military responded with artillery fire on targets in Afghanistan, reportedely killing 32 Afghan soldiers.[14]
  • 3 February 2011 - One Pakistani and 7 ANA soldiers were killed and three others wounded after a clash broke out along the border between Pakistani and Afghan forces. An Afghan commander in Khost confirmed the exchange of fire and alleged that the incident broke out after Pakistani troops in Waziristan opened fire towards Afghan police posts in Gurbuz District, claiming the Afghan engagement as retaliation. However, a military official in Peshawar said Afghan troops fired on an army checkpost in Ghulam Khan, North Waziristan and that the fire emanated from Afghan territory first. "We are responding with artillery and mortars," he added.[15]
  • April 28, 2011 - Border firing broke out in South Waziristan. At least 12 Afghan troops and one soldier from the Pakistan Frontier Corps were killed in the clash, although another source put the Afghan casualties at 8. The attack came just a week after Afghan soldiers had struck in Lower Dir, killing 2 Pakistani security personnel and 40 militants. According to the Pakistani military, Afghan troops opened "unprovoked firing" from across the border and also damaged a market, causing troops from the Pakistani side to respond with fire. However, Afghanistan blamed Pakistan for the clash and denied any Afghan casualties, claiming that only three Pakistani troops were killed. According to Pakistani intelligence analysts, foreign coalition forces have been encouraging Afghan troops to attack border posts. Pakistan also demanded for an immediate meeting to discuss the incident.[16]
  • June 2011 - Afghanistan blamed Pakistan for killing dozens of Afghan civilians in cross-border shellings conducted for several months. The Afghan government called for the immediate cessation of the artillery fire from Pakistan against Afghan villages. Gen. Zahir Azimi said around 150 missiles fired from Pakistan had landed in different areas of Kunar province.[17]
  • July 2011 - Over 150 Afghans in Kabul took to the streets to protest and condemn what they alleged as continuous cross-border shelling and bombardment by Pakistan in Afghanistan's eastern provinces that were said to have killed 12 and left a few wounded. The angry protestors expressed anger over the 470 rockets fired into Afghanistan allegedly from the Pakistani side. Pakistan rejected the Afghan government accusations, saying a "few accidental rounds" may have been fired when it chased unknown militants who had crossed over from Afghanistan and attacked its security instalments.[18]
  • 19 July 2011 - Pakistan claimed that over 20 mortar shells were fired from Afghanistan which killed 4 Pakistani soldiers and wounded another 2. Pakistan blamed the Afghan National Army for the attack.[19]
  • 27 August 2011 - at least 5 Pakistani security personnel were killed and seven others injured in Chitral after militants crossed the border from Nuristan province and initiated firing. The Pakistani government blamed Afghanistan, saying since their expulsion from Pakistani tribal areas, militants were regrouping in Kunar and Nuristan with the support of local Afghan authorities.[20]
  • 7 September 2011 - Protesters from Chitral staged a demonstration outside the Peshawar Press Club against an alleged continuous Taliban infiltrations into Pakistan from Afghanistan, including the abduction of 30 Pakistani children a week ago on the day of Eid ul-Fitr. The protestors said they would stand against insurgents if their region was attacked in the future and blamed the Afghan government, claiming that Afghan authorities and NATO forces were failing to contain Afghanistan-based militants. The protestors also urged the need to increase the presence of border forces and called on the federal government to take up the issue with the Afghan government to avoid future incidents.[21]
  • 25 September 2011 - Afghan authorities claimed that more than 340 rockets had been fired over the course of four days from Pakistani territory. The rockets damaged a few buildings, resulted in the death of a child and also forced hundreds to flee their homes. An employee from the Afghan Ministry of the Interior did not disclose the source of the cross border shelling but said: "We call on Pakistan, whoever is behind the attacks, to prevent it immediately."[22]
  • 10 October 2011 - Pakistani security forces claimed that they killed 30 Afghan militants when a group of 200 insurgents from Afghanistan crossed the border into Pakistan. One Pakistani soldier was also killed in the exchange.[23]
  • 12 January 2012 - Pakistani Special Forces Troops from elite Special Services Group entered 4 to 5km deep inside Afghan borders from lower dir area in pursuit of militants. Afghan Forces opened fire in retaliation, resultantly 11 Afghan Soldiers were killed in exchange of fire.Pakistanis immediately withdrew without any causality. Afghanistan also blamed SSG Commandos for taking away the body of a killed Afghan ANA Major.
  • 8 June 2013 - Pakistan Army Aviation AH1 Cobra Gunship Helicopters crossed the border from North Waziristan into Paktia and hit 3 TTP Targets before returning back, Afghan Forces showed restraint.
  • 20 December 2014 - JF17 Thunders from Pakistan Air Force Western Air Command Flew into Afghanistan in Kunar Provence and reportedly Hit 27 Targets. Air Strikes were carried out in three phases throughout the Night and reportedly 50 militants killed. An ANA soldier was also killed when an Afghan mobile Patrol was mistakenly identified as a militant vehicle by Pakistani Aircraft,SSG was also sent in to get the bodies of as many militants as possible. ANA Troops did not retaliate to the Pakistani Aircraft as Afghan Ministry of Defense directed not to engage Pakistani Forces.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Pakistan fires missiles into Khost, say border police". Pajhwok Afghan News. 2011-07-05. Retrieved 2011-07-06. Nearly a dozen missiles were fired from Pakistan into Afghanistan's southeastern Khost province over the past 24 hours, border police said on Friday. 
  2. ^ "1 Afghan killed, 3 hurt in missile firing". UPI.com. 2013-01-01. Retrieved 2003-01-01. 
  3. ^ "Hamid Karzai: Pakistan Firing Missiles Into Afghanistan". Huffingtonpost. 6 June 2011. Retrieved 2013-01-01. 
  4. ^ "Pakistan fire 80 missiles in eastern Kunar province". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  5. ^ "Karzai admits Balochistan unrest emanating from Afghanistan, claims Malik". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  6. ^ http://globalsecuritystudies.com/Price%20Pakistan.pdf
  7. ^ PBS - Frontline, Return of the Taliban
  8. ^ "Afghanistan Pakistan Crisis 1961-1963". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  9. ^ Parenti, Michael (December 17, 2008). "Story of US, CIA and Taliban". The Brunei Times. Retrieved 2011-08-30. 
  10. ^ "Haqqani network threatens attacks on judges". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  11. ^ 7 Burka-Clad Terrorists Captured in Nangarhar, by Tolo News. July 4, 2011.
  12. ^ a b c "Up to 7 Afghan troops killed in Pakistan clash". Reuters. 2007-05-13. 
  13. ^ "Pakistani, Afghan troops clash at border". Newsone.ca. 2007-05-13. 
  14. ^ indiaenews. "Pakistan, Afghan forces on border". Retrieved May 13, 2007.
  15. ^ "Afghanistan-Pakistan border: Pakistani soldier killed as troops exchange fire". The Express Tribune. February 3, 2011. 
  16. ^ "Pak-Afghan relations: Border clash mars peace overtures". The Express Tribune. April 28, 2011. 
  17. ^ "Afghan FM Calls on Pakistan to Stop Shelling Afghan Villages". TOLOnews (TOLOnews). 2011-06-24. 
  18. ^ Afghans protest in Kabul over Pakistani border shelling, Express Tribune
  19. ^ "Cross-Border Attack: Afghan shelling kills 4 Pakistani soldiers". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  20. ^ "Cross-border attack: Taliban militants kill 32 security personnel". Retrieved 14 December 2014. 
  21. ^ "Protest: Locals express anger at Afghan Taliban infiltration". Express Tribune. 7 September 2011. 
  22. ^ "Afghanistan claims Pakistan Army shelling Afghan border areas". Express Tribune. 26 September 2011. 
  23. ^ "30 Afghan militants killed after cross-border raid". Express Tribune. 10 October 2011.