Skirmishes on the Pak-Afghan border are not a rare occurrence. The two countries share an uncommonly long border – spanning nearly 2,500 kilometres. But more than the length of the frontier, it is their fraught history that leads to deadly flares of animosity.
There have been successive violent altercations between the Pakistan army and Afghani forces in 2017, 2018, and 2019. Pak-Afghan borders in Chaman, Balochistan and Chitral, KP have seen multiple instances of exchanged hostilities during which civilians have also been caught in the crossfire. The most recent clash seems to have been instigated by protestors in Chaman – under the banner of an All Parties Traders Union – who attempted to set a quarantine center on fire after being turned away from the border.
Originally, the border had been opened as Pakistan decided to legalise trade and allow free movement back and forth – a landmark moment.
The short-lived victory was shot to smithereens on Thursday as Pakistani forces had to scatter crowds with gunfire. Four people were killed and nearly twenty injured.
Sadly, even the festive spirit of Eid could not bring peace. While the fact that neither Pakistan Army or Afghani forces actually instigated the chaos is a small consolation, it’s not enough. Whenever the two nations attempt reconciliation, something derails them. Realistically, Pakistan can never consider Afghanistan a neighbour in the true sense of the word. Neighbours rely on each other. Neighbours share economic resources and engage in open trade. Neighbouring nations are cordial, at least on the surface. Pakistan, however, seems destined to remain in isolation – with a hated India in the east, and a hot and cold Afghanistan in the northwest.