Pak seeks ISAF help to check cross-border attacks from Afghan



Islamabad: Army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today called on the US-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) to help Pakistan check cross-border attacks launched from inside Afghanistan, an issue that triggered fresh tensions between Kabul and Islamabad.

Kayani raised the issue of cross-border attacks with visiting ISAF commander Gen Joseph F Dunford, who is on his first trip to Pakistan after recently assuming the position.

The two generals met in Rawalpindi as part of continuing tripartite efforts to "strengthen military-to-military cooperation and regional stability", a Pakistani military statement said. Kayani emphasised the need to continue backing all efforts to bring peace to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border region and "urged ISAF to help Pakistan check cross-border attacks launched from inside Afghanistan", the statement said.

The issue of cross-border attacks recently triggered fresh tensions between Kabul and Islamabad.

On March 27, Afghanistan cancelled a visit by a team of army officers to Quetta over "unacceptable Pakistani artillery shelling" of parts of Kunar province.

Pakistan subsequently accused Afghanistan of overreacting and said joint activities involving the armies were crucial for building trust between the two sides.

Pakistan also denied that its troops had carried out any shelling and said soldiers had only responded to "some intrusion from the Afghan side".

During their meeting, Kayani and Dunford discussed a "variety of issues related to strengthening cooperation and pressuring militants who threaten security along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border", the military statement said.

Kayani reiterated Pakistan's "stance and desire for a peaceful, stable and united Afghanistan and the need for a successful Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process".

Dunford, who had earlier met Kayani shortly before he assumed command of ISAF, said: "The Pakistanis, the Afghans and the international community all desire peace and security in the region. These meetings are important to achieving that goal as we continue to explore ways to expand our relationship."

Relations between Islamabad and Kabul had recently improved and British Prime Minister David Cameron hosted a trilateral summit on February 4 as part of efforts to boost the peace process in Afghanistan.

Since then, there have been a series of accusations and disagreements between Afghan and Pakistani officials.

Islamabad also has concerns about "safe havens" of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in Kunnar and Nuristan regions of Afghanistan.

"We have taken up this matter with Afghan authorities. We hope that these safe havens from which incursions into Pakistan take place will be eliminated," Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry said recently.

Pakistan has been jockeying for a greater role in Afghanistan ahead of the withdrawal of US and foreign forces next year.

Despite releasing 26 Afghan Taliban detainees and reaching out to various ethnic groups in Afghanistan, Pakistan has been unable to make headway in these efforts.

PTI