Thursday, February 25, 2021

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Seven Killed As Mortar Fired From Afghanistan Hits House In Pakistan

A mortar shell fired from Afghanistan hit a house in a border village in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, killing seven family members. Ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan have been tense as Kabul has consistently accused Islamabad of harbouring terrorists.

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“The mortar fired from Afghanistan hit the house of local villager Fazal Ghani. He along with his wife and five other members of the family died on spot,” senior police official Gulzar Khan told AFP.

The dead included three women, three children and the head of the family. The incident took place in Batwaar Bangro village, some 50 kilometers from Khar, the main town of Bajaur tribal district.

Gulzar Khan said police and rescue officials helped the villagers retrieve dead bodies when they reached the site. “The house (was) completely destroyed in the attack,” Khan said.

Anwar ul Haq, a senior government official in the area, confirmed the incident and the death toll and said the mortar was fired from Kunar province, across the border in Afghanistan. Haq said the mortar collapsed the roof of the house, killing the family members. Islamabad this week briefly closed the Torkham border crossing after a mortar fired from Afghanistan landed in Pakistan.

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Durand Line

Relations between Afghanistan and Pakistan have long been tense, with both countries accusing each other of supporting terror groups.

In 1947 when British were leaving the South Asian sub-continent, Pakistan inherited the Durand Line borders, that was drawn up by then Foreign Secretary of India, Sir Mortimer Durand, after visiting Kabul in 1893. It was ratified by Afghanistan’s emir Habibullah in 1905

The Anglo-Afghan treaty signed between the Britishers and Abdur Rahman as head of the Afghan government on August 8, 1919, also known as the Rawalpindi Treaty, again ratified the border demarcation.

Another treaty was signed between the two sides in 1921 that focused on trade concessions across the Durand Line, that are still availed by Afghanistan for its cross-border trade with Pakistan.  However, Kabul did not recognise the Durand Line after the British left the region and Afghanistan was the only country to object to Pakistan’s inclusion in the United Nations in 1948.

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