ISLAMABAD: Despite ‘operationalisation’ of a new framework for bilateral engagement — Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) — that calls for ending the blame game, Islamabad and Kabul continue to trade allegations.

“Terrorist groups (based on Afghan soil) regularly undertake cross-border raids on our posts,” Foreign Office spokesman Dr Muhammad Faisal said in his weekly briefing which he addressed from Beijing via Skype.

The spokesman is in Beijing to attend a meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). This was the first briefing of its kind addressed from outside the country.

The spokesman recalled that two Pakistani soldiers lost their lives in cross-border attacks on April 7 and 8, besides several others injured.

Pakistan and Afghanistan had agreed on making APAPPS functional during Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s day-long visit to Kabul last week.

Spokesperson holds weekly briefing from Beijing over Skype

The principles set for APAPPS included commitments to deny the use of both countries’ territory against each other; avoid territorial and aerial violations of each other’s territory; and shun public blame game.

Mr Abbasi’s visit was preceded by Afghan allegations that Pakistani jets had bombed targets on the Afghan side.

The allegations were immediately refuted by Pakistan, but the blame game continues despite apparently a successful visit by Mr Abbasi.

This week an Afghan official alleged that Pakistan fired 200 rockets into Kunar province.

Spokesman Dr Faisal again rejected the Afghan allegation insisting: “We neither step into Afghan soil, nor fire inside its territory”.

He said that Pakistani troops only responded when they were under attack by terrorist groups.

“We respect Afghanistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” he said.

The spokesman said that following counterterrorism operations in Pakistan, several terrorist groups relocated to Afghanistan where they had established their sanctuaries and from where they carried out cross-border raids on military posts on this side.

Dr Faisal, however, noted that Afghan security forces had addressed Pakistani concerns about sanctuaries in certain areas along the border, but they still had to fully address the matter by taking similar actions in other areas with terrorist hideouts.

In reply to a question about a traffic accident involving a US diplomat that left a young man dead, the spokesman said that the police probe report was still awaited on the matter.

Published in Dawn, Aprill 13th, 2018

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