Pakistan, Afghanistan calm tensions after border clashes
PARACHINAR, Pakistan -- Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed to a cease-fire after border clashes claimed several lives earlier this week, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) reported Monday (April 16).
Fighting between Afghan border police and members of Pakistan's Frontier Corps broke out on Sunday along the border in Zazi Maidan District, in Khost Province, Afghanistan, which borders Kurram Agency in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
After a truce was established later in the day through mediation by tribal elders, the Afghan side returned to Pakistan the bodies of five dead Pakistani soldiers as well as one soldier captured alive.
Two Afghan police officers were killed in the clashes, Afghan security officials told RFE/RL.
Restoring peace, brotherly relations
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan claim troops from the other country started the fighting.
Regardless, tribal elders and officials on both sides of the border have been involved in quickly calming down tensions and restoring peace.
"We are trying to keep things calm and defuse the tension arising from the clash in the Laka Tiga area of the Pak-Afghan border," Kurram Agency Political Agent Baseer Khan Wazir told Pakistan Forward on Tuesday.
Pakistani tribesmen who had marched toward the border over the clashes have been sent back home and tribal councils are being held with Afghan officials to avoid further tension, he said.
"Tribal elders and the tribesmen across the border [in Afghanistan] are also in touch and working with the authorities to keep things under control," Sajid Hussain Turi, a member of Pakistan's National Assembly from Kurram Agency, told Pakistan Forward.
The tribesmen are directing their efforts to defusing tension and maintaining calm on the border, which is in the interest of both Pakistan and Afghanistan, he said.
"The two brotherly nations should respect each other, as managing the border is necessary for peaceful coexistence, which is the responsibility of both sides of the border," he said.
"Residents on both sides of the border are Pashtuns and Muslims, and it is their priority to stop further bloodshed," said Haji Noor Mohammad, a Bangash-Turi tribal elder and general secretary of the Anjuman-e-Hussainia, a Shia group of elders representing Kurram Agency residents.
"We are in contact with tribal elders on the other side of the border, and we are optimistic there will be a quick reconciliation and that tension will be defused," he told Pakistan Forward.
Tribal elders have calmed down young tribesmen who were angered by the shooting and marched to the border, he said.
"Peace on the border is in the interest of both nations," he said.
Clashes benefit only terrorists
"The clashes that sometimes occur between Afghan and Pakistani forces across the border are in the interest of terrorists," Saleh Mohammad Saleh, a representative in the Wolesi Jirga (Afghan lower house of parliament) from Kunar, told Pakistan Forward.
"The citizens of both countries are victims of terrorism, and it is better for both governments to work together to resolve problems and fight against terrorism," he said.
"Distrust between Afghanistan and Pakistan has [led to the lack of] good achievements in the fight against terrorism and in bringing stability to the region," he said. "Therefore, negotiations are needed to overcome these problems."
"Now is the time for both countries to build trust," Saleh said.
Taher Yarghal, a Kabul-based military analyst, agreed with that assessment.
"While both countries are faced with insecurity and terrorism, such clashes will only hurt both sides," he told Pakistan Forward.
"Peace in Afghanistan is definitely in the interests of Pakistan," Yarghal said. "Therefore, both countries need to fight and defeat terrorism together, and it will benefit both [Afghanistan and Pakistan]."
[Sulaiman from Kabul contributed to this report.]