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Pakistan, Afghan militaries in bid to build trust

Updated May 13, 2017


OPERATIONS chiefs of the Pakistani and Afghan militaries meet at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
OPERATIONS chiefs of the Pakistani and Afghan militaries meet at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.

ISLAMABAD: Operations chiefs of Pakistani and Afghan militaries held their first face-to-face meeting since last week’s deadly Chaman clash, agreeing to end acrimony and make efforts at building cooperative relations.

“A Two Star Pakistan-Afghanistan Bilateral Meeting, in which both sides discussed measures for improving military-to-military coordination and cooperation,” was held at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, the Inter-Services Public Relations announced on Friday without saying when the meeting was held. It is believed the meeting was held on Thursday.

At the meeting, the Pakistani side was led by Director General Military Operations (DGMO) Maj Gen Sahir Shamshad Mirza, whereas the Afghan delegation was led by DGMO Maj Gen Habib Hesari.

First face-to-face meeting between DGMOs since May 5 Chaman clash

The meeting is believed to have been facilitated by US-led Nato’s Resolute Support Mission (RSM) in Afghanistan.

Prior to bilateral talks, a trilateral meeting involving Pakistan, Afghanis­tan and RSM was held to set the ball rolling.

The ISPR, the military’s public affairs wing, said the two sides also discussed “Chaman incident, border control / management and measures to curb cross-border fire violations”.

Afghanistan has always contested the Durand Line as the international border and there have been a number of skirmishes between the two, especially whenever Pakistan attempted to undertake measures to regulate it. However, the May 5 attack on border villages during census was not only one of the bloodiest in the troubled history of the two countries, but also indicated Kabul’s growing belligerence towards Pakistan.

The DGMOs earlier had their hotline contact while the exchange was going on and then agreed on ceasefire. Later, flag meetings of the local commanders as well as a geographical survey of the concerned villages was carried out to resolve the dispute.

The RSM-facilitated meeting, according to a military analyst, was meant to ease the friction between the two and help them move beyond the incident.

“Both sides agreed to enhance frequency of bilateral interactions at multiple tiers through different command and staff channels to foster an environment of mutual respect, trust, cordiality and cooperation,” the ISPR said, pointing towards agreement on mending the damage caused by Chaman incident.

The positivity generated by the meeting was, however, too short-lived.

A day later and even before the media statement on the meeting had been issued, Pakistani and Afghan security forces traded fire along the border in Kurram Agency that left at least two Pakistani troops wounded.

The latest bilateral meeting was preceded by a trilateral meeting at which, in addition to Afghan and Pakistani side, RSM was also present. The RSM team was headed by its Deputy Chief of Staff (Operations) Maj Gen Christopher Haas.

“During the trilateral meeting, the senior delegates stressed upon the need to defeat Daesh (the Arabic acronym for the militant Islamic State group) through complementary efforts in respective areas of operations,” the ISPR said.

Published in Dawn, May 13th, 2017