Afghanistan’s top security officials in the government visited eastern Nangarhar province Monday to investigate the increasing claims of unrest along the border with Pakistan.
Minister of Defense Gen. Bismillah Mohammadi and Minister of Interior Mujtaba Patang were in Nangarhar’s Ghoshta district Monday morning to discuss with residents about the ongoing shelling of Afghan territory from Pakistan’s side of the border.
Mohammadi told reporters accompanying his visit that the aim of the trip was to assess and solve it diplomatically.
“We don’t want to start a war,” he said Monday. “We are discussing the problems with the residents and we want to resolve it in a diplomatic way.”
He reiterated that they are also working on the Pakistani government to put an end to any shelling into Afghanistan.
“We will ask Pakistan to stop the shelling and we are also following up the problem with the United Nation’s [Security Council] to pressure Pakistan over the shelling in Afghanistan territory,” he said.
The visit comes four days after the Pakistan military allegedly warned the residents of Ghoshta and Lalpoor districts to leave the area or risk being targeted.
Meanwhile, Patang repeated his statement in Parliament last week that the Afghan border police will be reinforced.
“We will equip and increase the number of border police in the bordering districts. Our forces can defend their territory,” the Interior Minister said.
Both the Ghoshta and Lalpoor districts share their eastern border with Pakistan and have seen an increase in missile attacks from the east over the past year. Ghostha is normally a more peaceful district in the province.
Nangarhar provincial governor Gul Agha Shirzoi warned Pakistan that if the shelling continues, Afghanistan will soon retaliate.
“If Pakistan again starts shelling, we will respond with similar attacks by the Afghan army,” he said Monday.
According to reports, hundreds of families in Lalpoor district and other eastern provinces such as Kunar have fled their homes due to the ongoing threats.
Last week, Afghan President Hamid Karzai talked about the challenges facing the Afghan and Pakistan governments in his address to the United Nations General Assembly in New York
“We are deeply committed to our brotherly relations with Pakistan, but are aware of the challenges that may strain our efforts at building trust and confidence,” Karzai said.
“Such incidents as the recent shelling of Afghan villages risk undermining the efforts by both governments to work together in the interest of our common security.”