Pakistan landlocks Afghanistan
In the wake of the bloody suicide bombings at a shrine in Pakistan killing 88 worshippers, the country has hit back hard at Afghanistan by land-locking it out.
Authorities shut down a second key border into Afghanistan at Chaman in southwest Baluchistan, halting trade supplies to the neighbouring country, increasing tension between the two.
Pakistan is determined to pressure Kabul in taking action against Islamic State militants who Pakistan says have sanctuaries in Afghanistan. IS has claimed responsibility for the horrific carnage at Lal Shahbaz Qalander shrine in Sehwan on Thursday 16th February, which claimed 88 lives and injured hundreds.
Pakistan security forces since then launched nationwide operations and state they say killed over 100 terrorist militants hiding in the country.
Pakistan was reeling from the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar suicide assault on 13th February at a rally in Lahore. Seven police officer and six civilians were killed in the busy artery of the city.
Pakistan says Jamaat-ul-Ahrar – a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban and the main Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan militant groups had been operating from Afghan areas near the Pakistani border. Officials say that Kabul has historically ignored Islamabad’s pleas to take action against them.
Now Pakistan’s military have summoned Afghan diplomats and handed over a list of 76 suspected “terrorists” who were hiding in Afghanistan. Pakistan wants immediate action by Afghan authorities, including the suspects’ extradition to Islamabad.
Deputy Foreign Minister Hekmat Khalil Karzai says the Afghan government wants Pakistan to take strict action against terrorists that are hiding in Pakistan; but expresses concern over the closure of the border crossings and asked that the gates be reopened.
Apart from disrupting trade, says Karzai, the closure of border may also delay the repatriation of Afghan refugees by the refugee agency of the United Nations.
The Afghan army Chief of Staff General Qadam Shah Shahim, claims that his forces killed 1,955 Islamic State group fighters over the past year.
Refugees have been living in Pakistan since the 1980s after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.
Pakistani officials say the country sheltered 5 million Afghan refugees at one time and there are still an estimated 1.3 million registered and over a million more unregistered living in the country.
It has allowed registered refugees to remain in the country until the end of this year.