As the Afghan endgame nears its 2014 deadline – with international coalition forces slated to withdraw from the region – the Nato-led Isaf forces spokesman in Afghanistan says that building cordial ties between Afghan and Pakistani soldiers is a top priority.
Spokesman Lieutenant Commander Brian Badura told The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview that, like Nato and the US, both Afghanistan and Pakistan share a common goal of ridding the region of elements who are determined to hurt innocent civilians worldwide.
“Our goal is to resolve tensions and promote a sense of cooperation with our Afghan and Pakistani partners. We all share a common goal: to stop the insurgency and their failing attempts to derail the efforts to build lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan that in turn benefits all regional nations, including Pakistan,” the spokesman said through emails.
The spokesman’s comments come at a time when tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have simmered to a precarious position in recent weeks following an increasing number of cross-border attacks on Pakistani border posts by Afghanistan-based militants.
Conversely, Kabul threatened to approach the United Nations if Pakistan did not stop rocket fire. Afghan officials claim that nearly 500 families have fled border regions in Kunar province after around 1,000 Pakistani rockets landed in the area.
“Our troops – Pakistani and coalition – are in a fight against a common enemy that condones the killing of innocent people around the world. Isaf is committed to working closely with Pakistan and Afghanistan to prevent reckless, divisive actions that harm innocent civilians and our troops,” he said.
Afghan Ambassador in Islamabad Omar Daudzai told The Express Tribune in a recent interview that border tensions would be one of the main topics on the agenda in talks between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf at a meeting expected in Kabul next week.
Meanwhile, an Afghan diplomat revealed that Premier Ashraf’s visit to Kabul is still on despite the fresh tension and Ambassador Daudzai has gone to Kabul for the visit’s preparations.
The Nato spokesman said that insurgent groups such as the Taliban and Haqqani network were attempting to use the Afghan-Pakistan border to their perceived advantage, adding that Isaf is actively working to stop those actions.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.