The situation continues to be tense at the Torkham border, following new clashes between security forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan after a short-lived ceasefire. With overnight skirmishes killing at least one person, wounding 18 others, and forcing around 200 Pakistani families to relocate to safer areas, it has perhaps become essential for a more permanent solution to end border atrocities between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

What is strange is that the most recent spate between the two forces came after a ceasefire was announced, which implies that both sides need to stress the importance of peace firmly among the rank and file. Sources have confirmed that the Afghan security forces targeted the under-construction gate at Torkham – 37 metres inside the Pakistan territory. This comes after Pakistan’s decision to hand over the Angoor Adda gate to Afghani authorities as a goodwill gesture. The move should not be undersold; giving over control of a gate along the border that was constructed and maintained by Pakistan in somewhat disputed territory was not done lightly. If Afghanistan ignores this overture, like all others before it, a time has to come when Pakistan asks itself how much more the Afghan government expects from this side.

President Abdullah insists bilateral understandings bind the two countries to ‘seek mutual consent before constructing new installations near the border’, which, while may be true, is no excuse to undermine the efforts of border control being carried out by Pakistan, in the hopes of stemming the travel of potential militants towards either side. This is an objective that both countries supposedly agree on; then why is the Afghanistan government resisting it so much? The only reason for not wanting stricter border control can only be an attempt at reversing Pakistan’s strategic balance policy and attempting to try it here.

This politicking – that the Afghan and Pakistani security establishments find all too easy to indulge in – must stop. Pakistan Army’s Major Ali Jawad Changezi, who was severely wounded in firing by Afghan forces in these recent clashes, at the Torkham border on Monday night, has succumbed to his injuries. This is unfortunately, only the beginning if both countries do not keep their forces in check.

The Pakistani plan appears reasonable and can create a template to monitor cross-border human traffic. But all plans must be implemented in a manner that minimises on-ground tensions. Establishing a border fence between two countries should be a common ground for both, and Afghanistan should be publicly asked why they are looking to sabotage this, even after multiple commitments internationally to work towards it.