KABUL (Pajhwok): President Hamid Karzai has directed the Afghan forces to stand ready for retaliation to Pakistani attacks on eastern Afghan provinces, the defence minister told lawmakers on Saturday.
Bismillah Khan Mohammadi told the Wolesi Jirga or lower house of parliament that President Karzai had cautioned Pakistani officials that Afghanistan could no longer tolerate the cross border shelling.
Over the past three years, Pakistani forces have been firing artillery rounds, missiles and rockets into eastern provinces, especially Kunar. The attacks from Pakistan have recently increased.
On Saturday, four Afghans were killed and several others were wounded when Pakistani gunship helicopters pounded border areas in the Dangam district of Kunar.
So far a large number of people have been killed, maimed and hundreds of families displaced as a result of the periodic shelling. Kabul has repeatedly asked Islamabad to stop the attacks.
Mohammadi was summoned by the lower house along with deputy interior minister Mohammad Ayub Salangi and deputy National Directorate of Security (NDS) chief Hassam Marzi to brief lawmakers about the Pakistani assaults.
Mohammadi said a serious probe had been launched into the Pakistani airstrike in the Dangam district. The airstrike involved two helicopters, according to Kunar governor Shujaul Mulk Jalala.
The defence minister said repeated requests to Pakistan to stop the cross border attacks had borne no positive results.
He said President Karzai had told Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that the Afghans could no longer tolerate the attacks from his country.
He said the president had directed security forces to stay ready for retaliation to the Pakistani attacks.
“We have done all preparations and we have the capability to give a firm response to Pakistan,” Mohammadi said, but added such a response needed approval from the parliament and the president.
“If you put pressure on me only, I alone cannot do this. The Afghan forces are ready, the politicians should make a decision,” the defence minister said.
Under Article 64 of the Constitution, with approval from the parliament, it is the president’s authority to declare a war.
“Here (in Afghanistan) a regional intelligence war is ongoing. All regional countries have their interests in Afghanistan. I don’t want to speak much about this in this august house,” Mohammadi said.
He said Pakistan had so far launched attacks into Nuristan, Paktika, Paktia, Nangarhar and other border areas, besides Kunar.
Deputy Interior Minister Salangi said Afghan security forces were ready to defend the country’s borders. He said any decision about the Pakistani attacks should come from the Parliament and the Presidential Palace.
However, he said the Afghan border police should be increased by 13,000 personnel to strengthen security along the country’s borders. He also said the border forces needed to be strengthened in areas of artillery and air force.
The NDS deputy chief said “fake” Taliban militants sneaked into Afghanistan from Pakistan and staged rocket attacks.
Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said the rocket attacks was a matter of grave concern and efforts should be made to stop them.