Pakistan on Monday protested at the Foreign Secretary-level the “unprovoked border shelling” by Afghan forces on Sunday evening in which four civilians were killed in a village of South Waziristan.
Conveying deep concern, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani said such attacks are unhelpful and unproductive, and would only vitiate the conducive atmosphere Pakistan is trying to create for promotion of peace and stability in the region.
The shelling came a day ahead of the three-day visit of the High Peace Council (HPC) of Afghanistan to Pakistan. According to security personnel, mortar rounds were fired from Afghanistan on the Nez Naarai village in the Shawal area of South Waziristan. Among the four dead were two children.
Cross-border firing has become a major irritant in bilateral relations with the frequency of such incidents increasing over the past couple of years.
Pakistan has time and again protested such firing and incursions not just with Kabul but also the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), stationed west of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
Meanwhile, the HPC — led by chairman Salahuddin Rabbani — met Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf soon after arrival in Islamabad. He was scheduled to have a delegation-level discussion at the Foreign Office later in the evening to explore avenues for the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Meetings have also been lined up with the military establishment and a cross-section of political leaders.
The HPC has been leading the effort to negotiate with the Taliban for well over a year now amid repeated efforts by Kabul to get Pakistan to facilitate the process, given the influence and access that the security establishment is believed to have over some of the Taliban leaders.
Ahead of the visit, Pakistan’s Ambassador in Kabul, Mohammad Sadiq, was quoted as stating that expectations from Islamabad/Rawalpindi should be reasonable as the Taliban itself is not just one entity but made of various groups with varying agendas. Having failed to open direct communication lines with the Taliban despite various interlocutors, Afghanistan has often said that Pakistan has not done enough to facilitate the peace process.