Sunday, 24 September 2017

Britain Attempts to Defuse Afghanistan’s Tensions With Pakistan

Mark Lyall Grant

FILE – Mark Lyall Grant, then-Britain’s Ambassador to the United Nations Mark Lyall Grant addresses members of the U.N. Security Council.

LONDON: Britain will host top officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss Afghan and regional security and try to resolve Kabul’s current political tensions with Islamabad. British National Security Advisor Mark Lyall Grant, his Afghan counterpart Haneef Atmar, and Pakistani foreign policy advisor Sartaj Aziz, will lead their respective delegations Wednesday at the trilateral meeting.

Border issues
The meeting is taking place at a time when Pakistan has closed its border with landlocked Afghanistan in response to a string of deadly suicide bombings in the country last month. Islamabad alleges anti-state militants orchestrated the violence from their hideouts on the Afghan side of the border. Last week Islamabad opened the border for only two days to allow tens of thousands of stranded Afghans to return to their country. Afghanistan depends on Pakistani sea ports for trade, which is considered the war-torn country’s economic lifeline. The border closure has stranded thousands of containers after having left Pakistan’s southern Karachi port on the Arabian Sea.

Security along border
Pakistani authorities want their Afghan counterparts to boost security on the 2,600 kilometer frontier before the traffic is restored. Islamabad has also handed over a list of 76 fugitive militants to Kabul, saying they are sheltering on Afghan soil and want their extradition. But the Afghan government in response gave Islamabad its own list of dozens of militants and 32 training centers in Pakistan, alleging they are behind years of insurgent violence in Afghanistan.

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