ASIF BASHIR CHAUDHRY/Agencies
Military high command of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Isaf met in Kabul on Monday and discussed transfer of security responsibility to Afghan National Security Forces in the wake of US/ISAF drawdown, besides reviewing the current security situation in Afghanistan.
The four-star level meeting at Afghan Ministry of Defence was attended by Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif, Afghan Chief of General Staff General Sher Muhammad Karimi and ISAF Commander General Joseph Dunford, an ISPR spokesman said in a statement issued at the end of the meeting.
During his first visit to the neighbouring country as COAS, General Raheel Sharif said that Pakistan considers terrorism as a common enemy against the security of both countries and emphasised on coordination arrangements along Pak-Afghan border, the ISPR said.
BBC Urdu reported Afghan defence ministry as saying that in response to their request for Pakistan help during the commanders’ meeting, Gen Raheel has assured them of full cooperation of his country in holding of smooth and secure presidential elections in the war-torn neighbouring state.
Afghan military officials also briefed the Pakistani delegation over latest security situation in Afghanistan with special emphasis on Afghan Presidential elections. The military high officials of the two neighbouring countries also deliberated on ways to enhance coordination arrangements along Pak-Afghan border.
Later, separate meetings of COAS Raheel were held with the Afghan Acting President Younis Qanooni and Afghan Defence Minister General Bismillah Muhammadi. Matters of mutual interest were discussed during these meetings.
The tripartite meeting of commanders was arranged at the time when control over law and order is the priority of Afghan officials during second round of Presidential elections while the rift over the Pak-Afghan border also increased on the other side. The meeting is also important as it takes place when foreign troops are devising an exit strategy, and Afghanistan and Nato need Pakistan’s cooperation to ward off any threat to Afghan security.
General Raheel Sharif’s visit also coincides with recent tensions along the common border as both countries accused each other of cross-border firing. The 2,600 km long porous border is almost impossible to be fully guarded and infiltration of militants from each side to the other has been going on for years.
According to the sources, Afghan officials showed their concerns that militants from across the border might target the second phase of elections and Pakistan help was needed to counter these attacks. Afghanistan claimed on Thursday that one of its border police officers was killed as clashes broke out with Pakistani troops along the border in southern Kandahar province.
The Afghan interior ministry had also alleged that Pakistani forces had started “construction of bunkers and check posts inside the Afghan territory” in the Maroof district of Kandahar. The Pakistan Army had rejected these claims by Afghan officials and in turn accused Afghan forces of unprovoked firing on a Pakistani post in Loe Bund area in Balochistan.
Pakistan also says that senior leaders of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have regrouped fighters in the Afghanistan border region and frequently launch attacks on Pakistani border posts. Officials say TTP chief Mullah Fazalullah leads his men in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province. In February, Pakistan said that TTP executed 23 of its Frontier Corps soldiers inside Afghanistan. The soldiers had been kidnapped from Mohmand Agency in 2010 and taken across the border. Pakistan had lodged a formal protest over the incident.
ASIF BASHIR CHAUDHRY/Agencies