An insolvable dispute: Pakistan Afghanistan in a fix on border opening


Pak-Afghan border remained closed for the sixth consecutive day in the town of Chaman , here on Tuesday. The border was closed after Afghan demonstrators had burnt Pakistan National Flag on last Thursday. “We cannot tolerate slogans against our country and burning our national flag,” a Pakistani official deployed at border gate noted. Thousands of people and containers-mounted trailers stood at the Pak-Afghan border in Chaman while NATO supplies and cross-border trade was also suspended. People have been waiting for the border to open. The Pak-Afghan border gate was closed by the officials when local tribesmen of Chaman took out a rally and torched an effigy of Indian prime minister, Narendra Modi, as a protest against his statements on the Balochistan situation. Later, Afghan border forces also arranged a demonstration along the border in Afghanistan. The demonstrators on Afghan side burnt Pakistani flag and raised slogans against Pakistan.  Afghanistan has long been a beneficiary of Indian aid and enjoys wide support among the population. Afghan border forces did nothing to restrain the demonstrators. A flag meeting on August 23 failed to solve anything and security has been raised rather than eased. Traders on both sides of the border are losing money every hour that it is closed. Once again, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India find themselves intertwined in a seemingly insoluble dispute. Tension and violence flare at the slightest provocation by any side. The politicians add fuel to the fire with statements calculated to keep the pot boiling and external intervention never does anything beyond exacerbate an already perilous situation. Our relations with India continue to slide and despite the Afghan government condemning the desecration of the Pakistan flag, there is a sense that our foreign relations are being at the very least imperfectly managed. As noted previously in these columns, without a political will running in parallel across all of the players, there is scant room for movement, nothing to negotiate, and the sterile cycle of confrontation continues to eat away at regional development in the broadest sense. The poverty of political courage on all sides feeds the spiral downwards. Pakistan, India and Afghanistan together hold the keys to regional stability and peace, and all are unable to turn the lock.