Pakistan ISI Chief Visits Kabul Amidst Release of Haqqani Leaders
Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood with Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief Lt-Gen Faiz Hameed met Afghan National Security Adviser HamdullahMohib and discussed ways to resolve the matter of harassment of diplomats in both Kabul and Islamabad, dispute over an Afghan market in Peshawar and border firing incidents.
Afghanistan Pakistan tensions have spiked in recent weeks with cross border firing and pull out of the Afghan consulate from Peshawar being part of a series of incidents that have led to differences which has possibly led to the head of the Pakistani Intelligence Agency the ISI to arrive in Kabul on 10 November.
On 30 October Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs noted with serious concern the statement of 29 October 2019 issued by the Afghanistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs on cross-border firing by the Afghan military across the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
The Ministry claimed that on 27 and 28 October 2019, Afghan military resorted to un-provoked mortar and heavy weapon firing on Pakistan military’s newly-established posts, which resulted into serious injuries to six Pakistan military soldiers.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Islamabad claimed that, “As a positive gesture, Pakistan military proposed to resolve the issue of newly-established posts through Border Flag Meeting, joint survey of the area, and a local Jirga involving elders/Mashran from both the sides. The Afghan side requested for forwarding the suggestions on joint survey and Jirga through diplomatic channels. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs handed over a Note Verbale to the Afghan Charge D’Affairs in Islamabad on 28 October 2019, proposing joint survey and local jirga. The Afghan side has not responded on the proposal as yet”.
On 03 November the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan issued a statement indicating the threat to diplomatic personnel in Kabul. The Afghan Charge D Affairs was summoned and reminded that being party to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities 1961, it is the responsibility of the Government of Afghanistan to ensure safety, security and freedom of movement to all members of the Mission.
On 05 November Pakistan also protested the release from Kabul which projected mistreatment of the Afghan Ambassador. The Pak Ministry release said, “We have seen the statement issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Afghanistan and reject the assertion of “mistreatment” of the Afghan Ambassador. The Government of Pakistan extends due respect and courtesies and expects that the foreign envoys conform to the established diplomatic norms and principles.”.
Tolonwews reported that a Pakistani delegation led by Gen. Faiz Hameed, head of the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, is in Kabul to meet with Afghan officials.
Pakistani delegation will “apologize” to Afghan officials over the harassment of Afghanistan’s ambassador in Islamabad.
One of the key issues is the status of the Durand Line and Pakistani accusations of presence of large number of terrorists who are active in that country in Afghanistan.
Thus, the border clashes are related to these factors with reports of Pak artillery firing on suspected terrorist camps in Afghanistan while the Afghans resenting the fencing on the Durand Line. The tone of harassment of the diplomats on both sides is a reflection of similar tensions between Indian and Pakistan diplomats in New Delhi and Islamabad where both sides have accused each other of upping the ante.
The talks have been reportedly held to finalise the agenda for the Afghanistan, Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS) framework meeting to be held in Kabul next month. The last APAPPS meeting was held in Islamabad in June.
Importantly the Pakistan ISI Chief was also in Kabul on the day of release of prisoners of the Haqqani network given close contacts that the ISI maintains with the group and also the hand that Islamabad has in the talks with the Taliban.
The Haqqani network has been behind many of the co-ordinated attacks on Afghan and Nato forces in recent years and has been blamed for some of the deadliest blasts in the country, including a truck bomb in Kabul in 2017 that killed more than 150 people.
Will this move result in intra Afghan talks that are slated in Beijing for 21 November now remains to be seen?