The Friendship Gate on the Pak-Afghan border has been closed, signalling a final tear in the bond between Pakistan and Afghanistan. The state of Afghanistan has been taking advantage of the compassion that the Pakistani government has been showing for decades, and the damage that Pakistan has faced in terms of militancy on the border and the influx of Afghan terrorists. Despite several warnings and protective measures, the Afghan government is purposefully creating problems for the neighbour, and seem to want to catalyse a military confrontation, probably at the behest of India.

The latest target of Afghan aggression was the census team, carrying out the enumeration in Balochistan near the border. At least 15 people have been killed, including paramilitary personnel, and several have injured by the firing and shelling. The paramilitary personnel responded to the attack abruptly and took charge of the situation.

This is not the first time that the Afghan security forces have created hurdles for the census team. Since April 30, Afghan border police has been voicing its displeasure in the conduct of census in the divided villages of Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir in the Chaman area on the Pakistani side.

These are those areas that Afghanistan terms as disputed but are a legal part of Pakistan. They are on Pakistan’s side of the Durand Line and it has been 70 years since these borders were demarcated. It is about time that the Afghans accept the decision and start respecting the territorial integrity of Pakistan. Attacking a peaceful civilian team in Pakistan can only be described as state terrorism. Afghanistan has been failing miserably to control the security situation in the country, and rather than focus on terrorism, they are shooting at Pakistani civilians.

Pakistan, despite Afghan denial, has the complete authority over these areas. The government also previously informed the Afghan government, through diplomatic channels, of carrying out the census in these areas. This pettiness has only cost important lives, and invited a response from Pakistan; which Pakistan is more than capable of delivering.

Pakistan has been supportive of the Afghan government and has been trying to engage them in the regional political scenario. All overtures have been peaceful. That should not be misunderstood as its inability to take action where necessary, and it may be time again, to re-examine the relationship in realist terms of balance of power, rather than humanitarian concerns for Afghan peace and stability.