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Pakistan escalating tension with neighbours through trans-border incursions
Pakistan, since its inception, had never enjoyed continued cordial relations with three out of its four neighbouring countries. Pakistan has four prominent countries of the world as its neighbours. These are, on its eastern side, India; Afghanistan and Iran to the west and southwest respectively whereas China borders Pakistan in the northeast.

While Pakistan considers China as its "all weather friend", but with the remaining three of its neighbours, Pakistan has had "blow hot and cold" relations for decades, which also occasionally have headed on collision course.

Of late, India, Afghanistan and Iran, have been simultaneously targeted by Pakistani security agencies and its supported jehadi elements, following which Pakistan's bilateral relations with the three said major neighbours are progressively worsening.

Significantly, Pakistan's foreign policy towards its neighbours is conceived and implemented by the Pakistan Army and the civilian government is virtually kept out of bounds and left to bear the brunt of the Army's misdeeds against neighbouring countries.

On April 26, 2017, ten Iranian border guards of Mirjaveh County were killed by ISI-supported Sunni militants of Jaish-al-Adl (the Army of Justice), which is believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iran. Killed Iranian guards were ambushed by the Jaish's terrorists in Pakistan's 'Zero Point'.

Earlier, in October 2013 and April 2015, fourteen and eight Iranian border guards were respectively killed by militants of Jaish-al-Adl, which was founded in 2012 by members of Jundallah (the Army of God), a Sunni militant group, operating from Pakistani side of Balochistan on Pak-Iran border. Jaish-al-Adl has been designated as a terrorist organisation by Iran. It has been fighting against Iran's alleged discrimination against Baluch ethnic groups and Sunni Muslims of Sistan-Baluchestan province of Iran, which is infamous for gangsters and drug smuggling.

Following the incident, Iran sternly warned Pakistan and Major General Mohammad Bagheri, the head of the Iranian armed forces declared (May 8, 2017) that Iran might hit terrorist bases inside Pakistan if Pakistan fails to put a check on Sunni militants who had carried out cross-border attacks.

Iranian Foreign Minister also visited Pakistan (May 3, 2017) and met Pakistani leaders and Chief of Army Staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa. He held talks on action against terrorist groups, operative on Pak-Iran border and other bilateral issues. Incidentally, Pakistan's relations with Iran have not improved much after the 1979 Iranian Revolution.

Subsequently, On May 5, 2017 Pakistan had an armed clash with Afghanistan in the bordering Chaman area in which 15 people from both sides were killed. Pakistan alleged that Afghan security forces had fired upon a Pakistani census team and its escorting security team in the Killi Luqman and Killi Jahangir villages, on Pakistani side. Pakistani forces also retaliated and later claimed to have killed over 50 Afghan security personnel, which was refuted by Afghanistan.

While the Inspector General of Pakistan's Frontier Corps Major General Nadeem Ahmed alleged that Afghan aggression was a result of their government's alleged "collusion with India", Lieutenant General Aamer Riaz, commander of Pakistan Army's Southern Command, described the alleged Afghan offensive as "foolish". Pakistan's Defense Minister, Khawaja Mohd Asif also warned of strict action against any Pakistani border violation.

Following the incident, two Pakistani parliamentary delegations led by Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, Pakistan's parliament speaker and ISI Chief, Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar visited (May 2, 2017) Kabul separately in a bid to improve political and military relations with Afghanistan.

Incidentally, in February 2017, Pakistan had closed its border with Afghanistan at Torkham and Chaman, which remained closed for 32 days and opened only after Nawaz Sharif's order as a goodwill gesture. Pakistan is also strengthening its border with Afghanistan and has been engaged in constructing more check posts since mid-2016. While Afghanistan has merely 147 check points, Pakistan has 535 border posts along its 2,430 kilometers-long border with Afghanistan, known as the Durand Line. Moreover, Afghanistan has also been accusing Pakistan of supporting anti-Afghan Taliban, responsible for unabated terrorist activities, supported by the ISI and the issue has become a bone of contention between the two countries.

Regarding Pakistan's worsening relations with India due to border incursions by Pakistan, with the advent of summer it was expected that Pakistan's new military leadership under General Bajwa would be pleased to see Kashmir bleeding.

Ceasefire violations, infiltration of ISI-supported jehadi elements into Kashmir Valley to carry out sabotage activities and provoking Kashmiris against Indian security forces was being expected by the Indian authorities. Since Pakistan Army's leadership is dead against any improvement in relations between the two countries fearing that it could diminish their anti-Indian activities in Kashmir, Pakistan Army has also increased its cross-border skirmishes since early April 2017.

Meanwhile, a group of Pakistan Army's Border Action Troops (BAT) affiliated to the Special Services Groups (SSG) sneaked (May 1,2017) about 250 meters deep inside the Indian territory in Krishna Ghati Sector in Poonch district of Jammu and Kashmir and beheaded Naib Subedar Paramjit Singh of the Indian army and Head Constable Prem Sagar of the Border Security Force (BSF). Pakistani culprits carried out this inhumane act under the cover of Pakistan's artillery attacks inside the Indian territory.

Furthermore, on May 9, 2017, a group of six terrorists belonging to Hizbul-Mujahideen and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) kidnapped and killed Lieutenant Ummer Fayaz of the Indian Army in Shopian when he had gone to his home to attend the marriage ceremony of his cousin. 22-year-old Lt Fayaz was commissioned into the Indian Army on December 10, 2016. He was posted with an infantry unit in Akhnoor sector in Jammu district.

Lately, Pakistan's relations with its three neighbours viz: Iran, Afghanistan and India are at the lowest ebb. Pakistan is accused of allowing terrorists to use it territory against said neighbours to achieve its regional goals. While Pakistan is always wary of Afghanistan's coming close to India, it wants to make petrodollar rich Saudi masters happy by putting pressure on Iran, and in India, Pakistan wants to keep the issue of Kashmir and the so-called plight of Kashmiris alive at the international level.

Significantly, Pakistan Army has become so powerful in governing the country that it has virtually hijacked the country's foreign policy, especially related to neighbouring countries of Pakistan. This has led to Pakistan's tense relations with its three neighbours.

It is well known that Pakistan does not have good relations with its two Muslim neighbours and India and is facing problems due to border violations. Formation of a Saudi-led alliance of 41 Muslim nations called the Islamic Military Alliance to Fight Terrorism (IMAFT) in December 2015, with joint operations center in Riyadh, formed for fighting against terrorism and now led by former Pakistan army chief, General Raheel Sharif since early 2017, has further created differences between Iran and Pakistan. Iran sees this alliance as Sunni Muslim world's coming together against the interests of the world Shia community, which is being led by a Pakistani Army general. Pakistan can afford to make Iran unhappy but not Saudi Arabia, which is one of Pakistan's biggest financiers.

Similarly, Afghanistan is also unhappy over its relations with Pakistan as it has refused to succumb to Pakistani pressure on its relations with India and refuses to remain under Pakistan's thumb for heralding peace in the country. Pakistani support to anti-Afghan Taliban is universally known. For Pakistan, Taliban are an asset against Afghanistan to contain Indian influence as well as to create domestic crises in Afghanistan. Pakistan's providing security and sanctuary to Taliban against Afghanistan is a bone of contention and has been adversely affecting bilateral relations between them.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Army considers Kashmir as a "jugular vein" of Pakistan. Pakistan's democratic government does not have any control over its Army which advocates and supports the indirect armed interference in Jammu and Kashmir to keep the anti-Indian sentiments as well as Kashmir issue live at international level through proxy war.

Pakistan Army also advocates the resolution of Kashmir issue as "indispensable" for lasting peace in the region. More recently, Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa, during his visit (April 30, 2017) to some bordering areas on Pakistani side of the Line of Control(LoC) reiterated Pakistan Army's support to the so-called "political struggle" of Kashmiris for the so-called right of "self-determination".

Pakistan Army's direct and indirect anti-Indian activities through militants would continue unabated. This year (2017) alone, Pakistan Army has violated ceasefire a record number of times, indulged in inhumane activates of mutilating Indian soldiers, supported and encouraged terrorists to attack Indian Army and security establishments, provided finances to stone-pelters and sabotaged Pakistan's civilian government's moves to hold talks with India.

It is unlikely that Pakistan Army would stop using international borders with Iran, Afghanistan and India for achieving its regional goals through trans-border operations and indulging in border skirmishes; bypassing any genuine efforts of the civilian government to improve Pakistan's bilateral relations with its three major neighbours. Thus, Pakistan's neighbourly relations will remain on "blow hot and cold" mode, courtesy its Army's interference in the country's foreign policy towards Pakistan's neighbouring countries.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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