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Afghan-Pakistani team to probe border shelling: Kabul

August 15, 2012


President Zardari told Afghan President Hamid Karzai that Pakistan would continue to give its support for peace and stability in Afghanistan.-File Photo

KABUL: Afghanistan and Pakistan have agreed to send a joint military team to investigate a recent surge in cross-border attacks that have soured relations between the two neighbours, Kabul said Wednesday.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari took the decision on the sidelines of an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation summit in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Karzai’s office said.

Pakistan said the two leaders “discussed bilateral ties, the regional situation, the peace process in Afghanistan and other issues of mutual concern”, but declined to go into specifics.

Afghans say that thousands of rockets and heavy artillery shells have landed on their territory in recent months, blaming Pakistan for the alleged attacks.

The cross-border violence has become a highly sensitive issue in Afghanistan, where many are deeply suspicious of Pakistan and its historic ties to the Taliban, which is now fighting a 10-year insurgency against Karzai’s government.

Pakistan says groups of Pakistani Taliban sheltering in Afghanistan have infiltrated the border to resume attacks on its security forces.

Karzai asked Pakistan “to immediately end these attacks” and warned that if they continued, they would negatively impact "Afghanistan’s friendship with Pakistan".

His office said Zardari agreed to assign a joint military delegation to visit the border and investigate the shelling.

Zardari’s office said: “The two leaders were unanimous in the view that all groups should shun violence and join the peace process in Afghanistan, for peace and stability of the region.”

The apparent agreement to investigate the border violence comes after officials on both sides said Pakistan allowed an Afghan delegation to meet a senior Taliban leader being held in a Pakistani jail.

Pakistan’s 2010 arrest of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a powerful military chief who has been described as the Taliban’s second in command, had been blamed by Kabul for sabotaging peace initiatives.