Dawn – Pakistan, Afghan envoys in US trade barbs at Washington moot

Anwar Iqbal

Washington, 21 June 2017. Afghanistan cannot blame Pakistan for all its ills, as terrorist attacks happening there originate in that country, says Ambassador Aizaz Chaudhry, Islamabad’s envoy in Washington.

His Afghan counterpart Hamdullah Mohib argues that Afghanistan is not alone in blaming Pakistan; other neighbours, including Iran, also accuse it of interfering in their internal affairs. “Only the fish (of the Arabian Sea) do not because fish do not complain”.

The two ambassadors met on Monday afternoon in a dialogue on ‘Pakistan & Afghanistan relations, diplomacy & security challenges’, organised by a Washington-based think-tank, Indus, at Carnegie Endowment.

While Ambassador Chaudhry stressed the need for a dialogue, reviving the quadrilateral peace process and seeking a political solution to the Afghan conflict, Mr Mohib was not in a reconciliatory mood.

He not only accused Pakistan of stirring troubles in Afghanistan but also asked other nations, like China and the United States, not to give weapons to it. “One day, those weapons will be used against you,” he warned.

He was obviously emboldened by media reports that the Trump administration was ready to harden its approach toward Pakistan to crack down on militants who use their alleged hideouts in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas for launching attacks into Afghanistan.

Washington’s options

One report claimed that National Security Adviser General H R McMaster had told Pakistani officials that the US could attack targets inside Pakistan if American hostages held by the Afghan Haqqani militants were killed.

Reports in the US media claimed that the Trump administration was considering various options, which included expanding drone strikes, redirecting or withholding some aid and eventually downgrading Pakistan’s status as a major non-Nato ally.

But there are elements within the US administration that oppose taking such tough measures against Pakistan.

They argue that America’s close ties with India are already pushing Pakistan away and such harsh measures would further reduce Washington’s influence in Islamabad.

Whether motivated by these reports or other factors, the Afghan ambassador minced no words in attacking Pakistan in the dialogue.

“Military grade explosive were used in last month’s truck-bomb attack in Kabul” that killed more than 90 people, he said. “Those are not produced in ungoverned spaces of Afghanistan.”

Ambassador Mohib said that there were several “real issues” in working with Pakistan.

“We must work with Pakistan, yes. Which Pakistan? The one occupied by the military or the civil government?” he asked.

“Policies are made by the military. We are talking about today’s military that has a liberal mindset and uses extremism as tool for foreign policy. This new generation trained by Dawa institutes of Zia. We are seriously concerned about that generation.”

Ambassador Chaudhry began politely, expressing Pakistan’s desire to stay engaged with Afghanistan. “Time and history has shown that when Afghanistan was unstable, instability came to Pakistan as well,” he said.

“We have a genuine interest in a stable and prosperous Afghanistan.”

Mr Chaudhry said the Pakistani economy had stabilised and the country did not want to jeopardise that by seeking instability in Afghanistan.

He said that after the Tora Bora bombing in Afghanistan, militants came to the northern parts of Pakistan, but it had eliminated them from those areas at a huge cost, as 6,000 Pakistani soldiers had laid down their lives in those operations.

“Now peace has been restored and the economy is getting better. Investments are coming. These gains are at risk if Afghanistan does not become stable,” he said.

Kabul government control

Ambassador Chaudhry pointed out that the government in Kabul did not have control over the entire country and militants were using those areas for carrying out their activities, such as the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Nangarhar, which was a matter of concern for Pakistan.

“We are ready to contribute to peace in Afghanistan in whatever way possible,” he said.

“Glad to see the Pakistani economy picking up. So is the Afghan economy,” said Ambassador Mohib, but alleged that the global heroin trade was a third of the Pakistan economy and human trafficking and smuggling also contributed to it.

“We are at threat from these criminals who are threatening to take over,” he said. “No dialogue will succeed unless we are candid. We know what our objectives are. We don’t know what are Pakistan’s objectives.”

Mr Mohib said Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had “invested huge political capital” in ties with Pakistan but now he stated that Pakistan was engaged in an undeclared war.

“Nothing new, we have heard this mantra for the last few years,” Ambassador Chaudhry responded. “But we decided not to engage in blame game. It will not help any country.”

He told his Afghan counterpart that it’s “too simplistic to say Pakistan is responsible for all ills of Afghanistan,” and while doing so, the accusers ignored their own problems such as weak governance, corruption, drug trade and economic stress.

“Academically speaking, if the Pak-Afghan border is sealed completely, will it fix Afghanistan?” he asked. “We should show a friendly spirit, which was shown in Astana recently between President Ghani and PM Nawaz Sharif.”

He urged both countries to devise a mechanism to coordinate efforts to defeat terrorism.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1340855/pakistan-afghan-envoys-in-us-trade-barbs-at-washington-moot

Dawn – Exports to Afghanistan drop by over a quarter in a year

Mubarak Zeb Khan

Islamabad, 18 June 2017. Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan fell by a significant 27 per cent over the past one year, thanks to growing mistrust between the two countries as well as downgrade of Nato presence in the war-ravaged nation.

According to officials on Friday, the worsening law and order situation in Afghanistan over the past months was another factor that contributed to the decrease in exports.

Hundreds of people and security personnel have been killed in bomb blasts and gun attacks by militants in Afghanistan recently.

Withdrawal of Nato forces, increased trust deficit and poor security are causes of the fall [bold]

The deteriorating security situation has triggered an intermittent war of words between the two countries with Afghan officials holding Pakistan responsible for each such incident.

For the first time, the commerce ministry of Pakistan admitted that frequent closures of the Pakistan-Afghan border had also contributed to the steady decline in exports to the neighbouring country.

Another reason was the diversion of Afghan trade to Iran.

Pakistan’s exports to Afghanistan had reached an all-time high of $2.4bn in 2010-11. It remained over $2bn annually in the subsequent two years, 2011-12 and 2012-13. Since then, exports started to dwindle and hit $1.43bn in 2015-16.

In the first quarter of the current fiscal, exports were recorded at $362.5 million. It clearly reflects that the annual exports to Afghanistan will now be around $1bn when the figure for the 2016-17 was finalised.

Contrary to this, imports from Afghanistan have witnessed a growth of 26pc as it reached $409m in 2015-16 against $323m in the previous year.

Talks on several issues have been on the back burner for the last couple of years because of Kabul’s loss of interest in concluding a trade liberalisation regime with Pakistan.

In 2014, both sides agreed to initiate negotiation on a bilateral preferential trade agreement (PTA). Pakistan shared a draft text of the agrement with Afghanistan.

In 2015, Afghanistan conveyed to Pakistan that it would formally respond to the draft PTA latest by January 2016.

“We have not received any response so far from Afghanistan,” a commerce ministry official said.

Moreover, to encourage business-to-business interaction between the two countries, a joint business council (JBC) comprising leading businessmen from both sides was established.

The first meeting of the JBC was scheduled for August 2015. When Kabul failed to send its response, a new date for the JBC meeting was scheduled, 17 February 2016, in Islamabad.

According to the official, the Afghan government initially confirmed its participation in the meeting but later changed its mind. “Since then no meeting of the JBC has been planned,” the official said.

According to another official source, Pakistan has recently reminded the Afghan side to convene the 7th meeting of Afghanistan-Pakistan Transit Trade Coordination Authority (APTTCA) in Kabul as had been agreed during the last meeting held in 2016.

A similar request was also sent to Afghanistan for sharing the draft text of the amended Afghanistan Pakistan Transit Trade Agreement as was agreed in the last meeting of APTTCA held in Islamabad last year.

According to the source, both the Afghan transit and Afghan traders have suffered heavy demurrage, detention and over stay charges owing to the closure of border.

The deadlock between Afghanistan and Pakistan was due to Kabul’s insistence that India should be included in bilateral and trilateral agreements.

Kabul wanted to include India in Trilateral Transit Trade Agreement, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Tajikistan. Kabul, according to officials, also wants market access to India and Saarc countries through Wagha border.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1340270/exports-to-afghanistan-drop-by-over-a-quarter-in-a-year

The Hindu – Deadly explosions rock funeral in tense Kabul

The burial was of a victim of violent clashes between the police and protesters on Friday

Kabul, 3 June 2017. At least six people were killed and dozens wounded as explosions rocked the funeral of an Afghan politician’s son who died during an anti-government protest over spiralling insecurity in Kabul, raising tensions in a city already on edge.

Witnesses reported three blasts at the burial site of Salim Ezadyar, who was among four people killed on Friday when the protest degenerated into street clashes with police, fuelling anger against the government.

The hilly, wind-swept site was littered with bloodied corpses and dismembered limbs, local television footage showed, with one witness telling AFP that “people were blown to pieces” due to the impact of the blasts.

“So far six dead bodies and 87 wounded people have been brought to Kabul hospitals,” Health Ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh told AFP.

The funeral of Salim Ezadyar, the son of an Afghan Senator, was attended by senior government figures including Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, but his office told AFP that the latter was unhurt.

No group has so far claimed responsibility for the attack. President Ashraf Ghani condemned the bombings, saying on Twitter: “The country is under attack. We must stay united”.

The fresh killings are likely to further polarise a city that has been on edge since a truck bombing on Wednesday in Kabul’s diplomatic quarter killed 90 people and wounded hundreds of others, in the deadliest attack on the Afghan capital since 2001.

The bombing highlighted the ability of militants to strike even in the capital’s most secure district, home to the presidential palace and foreign embassies that are enveloped in a maze of concrete blast walls.

Hundreds of angry demonstrators calling for Mr Ghani to step down over spiralling insecurity clashed with police on Friday, prompting officials to beat them back with live rounds in the air, tear gas and water cannon.

City on lockdown

Kabul city was on lockdown on Saturday with armed checkpoints and armoured vehicles patrolling the streets to prevent a repeat of Friday’s protests.

Before the blasts at the funeral, authorities had sealed off roads in the centre of the city, citing the threat of new attacks on large gatherings of people.

“We have intelligence reports that our enemies are trying again to carry out attacks on gatherings and demonstrations,” Kabul garrison commander Gul Nabi Ahmadzai said earlier Saturday. “We hope that people will stay away from protests.”

But dozens of people still gathered on Saturday under a tent close to the presidential palace calling for Mr Ghani’s government to resign, but the assembly was largely peaceful.

“Any government attempt to disrupt our fair and just demonstration will show their complicity with terrorist groups and the perpetrators of Wednesday’s attack,” said Asif Ashna, a spokesman for the protesters.

“It is the duty of the government to ensure security to the protesters… and the government will be held responsible for any violence.”

The United Nations and a host of international allies have urged the protesters for restraint.

“The enemy seeks to manipulate the people’s anger and sadness to create division and sow instability,” the U.S. embassy said in a statement.

“Now is the time to stand unified and announce to the enemies that Afghans… will not allow cowards to break the resolve to achieve a stable and peaceful nation. The enemies of Afghanistan cannot win. They will not win.”

http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/deadly-explosions-rock-funeral-in-tense-kabul/article18713507.ece

The Kabul Times – Anarkali Honaryar; a heroine Sikh woman fighting for equal rights

Following is an article written by Sambuddha Mitra Mustafi about the prominent Sikh woman civil and human rights activist, sparing no time to fight for equal justice for the rights of Afghan women and looked over by The Kabul Times Desk of Reporters.

Sambuddha Mitra Mustafi

Kabul, 1 June 2017. She had a dream of becoming a pilot as a child, but has now been recognized as a leading campaigner for the rights of Afghan women.

“It is difficult for a woman to be a pilot in Afghanistan. My father said it does not fit in with this country’s culture,” Dr. Anarkali Kaur Honaryar told me, sitting in her office at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

In some ways, the high flyer has taken on a challenge much tougher than piloting planes. She fights for women’s rights in a society that remains staunchly patriarchal, and where many of her genders still breathe beneath their veils.

Hostilities

In May 2009, the 25-year-old was chosen by Radio Free Europe’s Afghan chapter as their “Person of the Year”. The award has made her a household name in Kabul.

Dr. Honaryar, a trained dentist, is one of about 3,000 Sikhs and Hindus who remain in Afghanistan.

Their number and their prosperity has significantly dwindled since 1991 when civil war broke out.

Before then, there were an estimated 50,000 Sikhs and Hindus in this ethnically diverse country and many ran successful businesses in Kabul, Kandahar and other cities.

But the outbreak of hostilities meant that most, including Dr. Honaryar’s relatives, moved to safer places in India, Europe, and Canada.

She has led campaigns for the civil rights of the embattled communities who stayed on, including one to get crematoriums built for their dead.

“Some people still think we are foreigners. They think we are Indians who are working and living here for a while. But we are Afghans too, and we should have all the rights and opportunities that other Afghans have,” says the demure yet outspoken doctor.

She has grown up in turbulent times.

In the early 1990s, Afghanistan was a country at war, with no stable central government. The provinces, including Dr. Honaryar’s native Baghlan in the north, were ruled by warlords.

Regrets

To make matters worse, swathes of the country were falling into Taliban hands.

Girls’ schools were banned in Taliban strongholds and religious minorities felt threatened by their extremist Sunni Muslim ideology, Dr. Honaryar fell into both categories: a female and a non-Muslim.

Fortunately for her, Baghlan did not come under Taliban rule. She carried on her education in relative freedom and graduated from high school four years ahead of her peers.

“I am grateful to my parents for supporting my education. Not all Afghan girls have been so lucky,” she says.

Once the Taliban were overthrown in 2001, Dr. Honaryar went to Kabul University to study medicine. She was part of the loya jirga (grand council) that selected the interim government to replace the Taliban.

“The situation for women has improved since the Taliban days. Now if the Karzai government does not listen to us, at least we can appeal to human rights groups,” she says.

And so she joined the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission in 2006.

“They know I am a Sikh but they still trust me with their most personal problems,” she says of the hundreds of mostly Muslim women she meets.

“The culture here is loaded against women. We try to solve their problems, but we also need to change the laws.”
Awareness of existing laws is also at a premium here, the female literacy rate is less than 20%. Dr Honaryar recounts how an illiterate woman had traveled a long way to Kabul to meet her.

The woman’s husband wanted to divorce her when she was expecting their child. “She didn’t know that Afghan laws state a husband cannot divorce his pregnant wife. He has to wait till the child is at least two months old. We helped her secure her rights,” she says, with a hint of pride.

To conclude with the writer said while conferences have taken her to different parts of the globe, Dr. Honaryar regrets not traveling enough in the land of her ancestors, India.

A visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, Sikhism’s holiest shrine, is top of her to-do list. And of course, the Taj Mahal.

http://thekabultimes.gov.af/index.php/opinions/social/14127-anarkali-honaryar-a-heroine-sikh-woman-fighting-for-equal-rights.html

Dawn – Massive blast rocks Kabul diplomatic quarter; 90 killed, 300 wounded

Kabul, 01 June 2017. At least 90 people were killed and hundreds wounded Wednesday when a massive truck bomb ripped through Kabul’s diplomatic quarter, bringing carnage to the streets of the Afghan capital just days into the holy fasting month of Ramazan.

Bloodied corpses littered the scene and a huge cloud of smoke rose from the highly-fortified area which houses foreign embassies, after the rush-hour attack tore a massive crater in the ground and blew out windows several miles away.

Witnesses described dozens of cars choking the roads as wounded survivors and panicked schoolgirls sought safety. Men and women struggled to get through security checkpoints to search for loved ones.

It was not immediately clear what the target was. But the attack underscores spiralling insecurity in Afghanistan, where a military beset by soaring casualties and desertions is struggling to beat back the insurgents. Over a third of the country is outside government control.

Hours after the explosion ambulances were still at the scene as rescue workers were digging bodies from the rubble.

“Unfortunately the toll has reached 80 martyred (killed) and over 300 wounded, including many women and children,” said health ministry spokesman Waheed Majroh, adding the figures would continue to climb as more bodies are pulled from the debris.

The interior ministry, which put the number of wounded at 320, said a suicide bomber had detonated an explosives-packed vehicle in Zanbaq Square around 8:30am. “More than 50 vehicles were either destroyed or damaged,” it said in a statement.

The ministry called on Kabul residents to donate blood, saying hospitals were in “dire need”.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Taliban — currently in the midst of their annual “spring offensive” — tweeted that they were not involved and “strongly condemn” the attack.

The insurgent group rarely claims responsibility for attacks that kill large numbers of civilians.

The militant Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for several recent bombings in the Afghan capital, including a powerful blast targeting an armoured Nato convoy that killed at least eight people and wounded 28 on May 3.

Pakistan condemns attack

The Foreign Office said in a press release that the blast has caused damage to the residences of some Pakistani diplomats and staff, while some sustained minor injuries.

“Pakistan strongly condemns the terrorist attack in Kabul… that has caused loss of precious human lives and injuries to many,” the FO said.

“Pakistan being a victim of terrorism understands the pain and agony that such incidents inflict upon the people and society.”

The FO extended condolences to the government and people of Afghanistan and condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations”.

Embassies damaged

Manpreet Vohra, India’s envoy to Afghanistan, told the Times Now television channel the bomb went off around 100 metres from India’s embassy, one of several in the area.

“We are all safe, all our staff, all our personnel are safe. However, the blast was very large and nearby buildings including our own building have considerable damage in terms of broken glass and shattered windows and blown doors etc,” he said.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted: “We strongly condemn the terrorist blast in Kabul. Our thoughts are with the families of the deceased & prayers with the injured.”

The explosion also shattered windows at the Japanese embassy. “Two Japanese embassy staffers were mildly injured, suffering cuts,” a foreign ministry official in Tokyo told AFP.

France also reported damage to its own embassy and the German one, but there was no information on possible casualties. Bulgaria said its mission had been damaged and its staff evacuated.

BBC journalists injured

The BBC’s Afghan driver was killed and four of its journalists were injured in the explosion, the British broadcaster said.

“It is with great sadness that the BBC can confirm the death of BBC Afghan driver Mohammed Nazir following the vehicle bomb in Kabul earlier today, as he was driving journalist colleagues to the office,” the BBC World Service said in a statement.

“Four BBC journalists were also injured and were treated in hospital. Their injuries are not thought to be life threatening,” the statement said.

“Mohammed Nazir worked as a driver for the BBC Afghan Service for more than four years and was a popular colleague. He was in his late thirties and he leaves a young family,” it said.

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis has warned of “another tough year” for both foreign troops and local forces in Afghanistan.

Afghan troops are backed by US and Nato forces, and the Pentagon has reportedly asked the White House to send thousands more soldiers to break the deadlock in the battle against the Taliban.

US troops in Afghanistan number about 8,400 now, and there are another 5,000 from Nato allies. They mainly serve in an advisory capacity — a far cry from the US presence of more than 100,000 six years ago.

Wednesday’s blast was the latest in a long line of attacks in Kabul. The province surrounding the capital had the highest number of casualties in the first three months of 2017 due to multiple attacks in the city, with civilians bearing the brunt of the violence.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1336526/massive-blast-rocks-kabul-diplomatic-quarter-90-killed-300-wounded

Dawn – Suicide blast, clashes on first day of Ramazan kill 54 in Afghanistan

Kabul, 28 May 2017. A suspected suicide bomber killed as many as 18 people in Afghanistan on Saturday and fighting between militants and security forces left at least 36 people dead on the first day of Ramazan.

In eastern Khost province, a Taliban attacker detonated a car bomb near a football field that is close to a military base, officials said.

“The target was a public bus station which was hit by the bombing. The victims were in civilian clothes and it is difficult to verify their identities.”

But provincial police chief Faizullah Ghairat said members of the elite Khost Provincial Force (KPF), known to be paid and equipped by the American CIA, were the target of the attack.

“The bombing took place early morning when KPF members were heading to work,” Ghairat said. “But most of the victims are civilians.”

At a local hospital, doctors received at least 18 dead bodies and eight wounded people, said Gul Mohammaddin Mangal, head of the public health department in Khost. “The bodies are not recognizable and it is hard to say if they are civilians or security forces,” he said.

Taliban spokesman Zabih­ullah Mujahid claimed responsibility for the Khost attack, saying it was aimed at members of the Afghan security forces.

A witness at the scene did not observe any military or police vehicles among those destroyed in the blast.

In the north-western province of Badghis, militants attacked security forces in Qadis district, sparking fighting that killed 22 insurgents, six security forces, and eight civilians, said Zahir Bahand a spokesman for the provincial governor.

The fighting also left 33 militants and 17 civilians wounded, he said.

In Nangarhar province on Friday, some residents of Achin district rebelled against fighters of the militant Islamic State group who have occupied much of that district, resulting in fighting that left 15 militants and six civilians dead, provincial governor Gulab Mangar said in a statement.

The KPF, estimated to have around 4,000 fighters, are believed to operate a shadow war against the Taliban in a province that borders Pakistan and are accused of torture and extrajudicial killings.

The brazen car attack, claimed by the Taliban on their website, comes just a day after at least 15 Afghan soldiers were killed when insurgents attacked their base in Kandahar, in the third major assault this week on the military in the southern province.

The attack in Shah Wali Kot district followed insurgent raids earlier this week on military bases in the same area and Maiwand district, bringing the death toll among Afghan troops in Kandahar to around 60.

The Western-backed Afghan government is battling both Taliban and IS militants around the country.

Taliban forces have increased their attacks in the weeks before Ramazan, with a string of strikes in Kandahar, Paktia, and Helmand, among other provinces. The battlefield losses mark a stinging blow for Nato-backed Afghan forces and have raised concerns about their capacity to beat back the resurgent Taliban.

Afghan forces are beset by unprecedented casualties and blamed for corruption, desertion and “ghost soldiers” who exist on the payroll but whose salaries are usurped by fraudulent commanders.

During another deadly Taliban attack on security outposts in southern Zabul province on Sunday, local officials made desperate calls to Afghan television stations to seek attention because they were unable to contact senior authorities for help.

The pleas for attention, a major embarrassment for the Western-backed government, highlighted the disarray in security ranks.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1335802/suicide-blast-clashes-on-first-day-of-ramazan-kill-54-in-afghanistan

Dawn – Pakistan, Afghan officials conduct joint geographical survey in Chaman

Syed Ali Shah

Chaman-Balochistan-Pakistan, 9 May 2017. A team of Pakistani and Afghan officials conducted a joint geographical survey in Chaman’s ‘controversial’ Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir villages and submitted a report to Kabul and Islamabad on Tuesday, as both countries seek to ‘remove discrepancies’ in Afghan maps.

Census activities have also resumed in Chaman amid tight security, days after a cross-border attack on census staff and security personnel by Afghan forces in Chaman left at least 12 people dead and 40 others injured despite Kabul being informed of the exercise in advance.

During a previous hotline contact, the Afghan director general of military operations had admitted his side’s mistake in identifying the boundary in the area and acknowledged that the international border lies between the villages and not at a ditch, as perceived by them, Inter-Services Public Relations had said earlier.

Earlier, official sources claimed that some differences were found between “our maps and the ones presented by the Afghan army” during a meeting.

Both sides subsequently agreed to conduct a survey of the ‘controversial’ Killi Jahangir and Killi Luqman villages after Pakistani and Afghan experts briefed the meeting on the matter.

Military officials agreed that Google Maps would also be considered while conducting the survey.

The Friendship Gate at Chaman, however, remained closed, and at least 15,000 people from the affected villages have moved to Chaman town, Qila Abdullah, Quetta and other places since the attack by Afghan forces on 5 May.

Later in the day, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz met Afghan Ambassador Omar Zakhilwal to discuss the issues Pakistan and Afghanistan are facing and the attack by Afghan border forces in Chaman.

Border opened for ailing Afghans to return

Authorities have made an exception for ailing Afghans, allowing them to leave and return home through the Chaman border crossing, a government official said.

Local official Qaiser Khan said the border will remain closed for everyone except sick Afghan nationals.

With additional reporting by Naveed Siddiqui in Islamabad

Pakistan has border issues with India, Afghanistan and Iran !
Man-in-Blue

https://www.dawn.com/news/1332032/pak-afghan-officials-conduct-joint-geographical-survey-in-chaman

The News – Chaman cross border killings

Sartaj Aziz terms Chaman incident as unfortunate

Islamabad, 8 May 2017. Adviser to Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz has said that the Chaman incident was an unfortunate event.

He stated this while addressing a news conference at the Foreign Office here on Monday.

The adviser also remarked that Pakistan responded to the firing from across the border.

On 5 May at least 11 people were martyred and 46 injured when Afghan border forces opened fire on Frontier Corps Balochistan soldiers deployed for security of census team near the Chaman border.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/203218-Sartaj-terms-Chaman-incident-as-unfortunate

Census activities resumed; Bab-e-Dosti gate remained closed

Chaman, 8 May 2017. Census activities, which were halted following Friday’s attack, have resumed on Monday. However, the Bab-e-Dosti gate is remained closed for the fourth consecutive day.

Security officials said that the Pakistan-Afghan geological survey teams would resume their activities today.

All trade activities and visa section were also remained closed on Monday.

Earlier, Pakistan and Afghan military authorities agreed on Sunday to determine the geographical border limits during a flag meeting at the Bab-e-Dosti gate.

https://www.thenews.com.pk/latest/203213-Chaman-Census-activities-resumed-Bab-e-Dosti-gate-remained-closed

Dawn – Fifty Afghan soldiers killed, one-hundred injured in retaliatory firing to Chaman cross-border attack: IG FC

Syed Ali Shah

Quetta-Balochistan-Pakistan, 7 May 2017. Inspector General (IG) Frontier Corps (FC) Balochistan Major Geneneral Nadeem Anjum on Sunday claimed that 50 Afghan security personnel were killed and another 100 injured as Pakistani forces retaliated to unprovoked firing by Afghan border forces on security personnel in Balochistan’s Chaman area last week.

He added, however, that “we are not happy over their losses since they are our Muslim brothers”.

The IG FC was briefing the media over a recent cross-border attack in Chaman, in which 12 people were killed and 40 injured when Afghan border forces opened fire on security personnel guarding a census team, although Afghanistan had been informed of the exercise in advance.

The attack caused residents in Killi Luqman, Killi Jahangir and Badshah Adda Kahol evacuating their homes as Chaman was shut down and security ramped up in Quetta and other parts of Balochistan.

The FC Balochistan chief said four or five check posts were also destroyed when Pakistani border guards retaliated to the cross-border attack.

General Anjum said that on May 5, Afghanistan pleaded for ceasefire, which Pakistan accepted.

The FC Balochistan chief said that Afghan authorities targeted civilians even though they had been informed about the on-going census exercise.

Earlier, Commander Southern Command Lt General Aamir Riaz termed the cross-border attack as ‘shameful’.

“This was a shameful act to target civilians at the border villages of Pakistan,” Riaz told journalists at Chaman during a visit to the area.

He said that Afghanistan would not benefit from such attacks in any way and that the Afghan government should be ashamed of such acts.

Officials agree to use geological survey

Pakistani and Afghan military commanders on Sunday agreed to carry out a geological survey of the border area, reported DawnNews.

This was decided in the third flag meeting between the commanders of the two sides. Geological experts also attended the meeting, held at the Friendship Gate. It was the third consecutive meeting in three days. Earlier, two such meetings had ended without any decision.

The meeting also deliberated a suggestion for usage of google maps.

https://www.dawn.com/news/1331637/50-afghan-soldiers-killed-100-injured-in-retaliatory-firing-to-chaman-cross-border-attack-ig-fc

BBC News – Kabul bomb attack targeting Nato convoy kills eight

A suicide attack on a convoy belonging to the Nato mission in Afghanistan has killed at least eight people in Kabul, officials say.

The victims were all civilians, a government spokesman said. About 25 other people were injured, including three US service members.

The attack on the group of military vehicles happened next to the US embassy during the morning rush hour.

So-called Islamic State (IS) said it was behind the attack.

The group has been in Afghanistan since 2015 and has claimed several attacks in the country recently.

Two of the vehicles were badly damaged, along with several other passing cars, AFP reports. Windows were shattered up to several hundred metres away from the scene.

The armoured personnel carriers, which are designed to resist large blasts, were able to return to a coalition base, the Nato-led Resolute Support mission said on Twitter.

The wounded were in a stable condition with non-life threatening injuries, and were being treated at coalition medical facilities, it added.

The attack comes three weeks after the US dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb, known as “the mother of all bombs”, on a tunnel complex used by IS in Afghanistan, reportedly killing many militants.

Meanwhile, the US is discussing whether to send more troops to Afghanistan, where militant groups have carried out numerous attacks recently.

How successful has IS been in Afghanistan?

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39031000

Snipers and green tea on Helmand’s front line

http://www.bbc.com/news/39586937

Afghanistan’s new ‘Great Game’

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-38582323

To see this article on the BBC site:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-39789732