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Pakistan warns of retaliation if Kabul fails to halt cross-border shelling

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has warned the Afghan government of retaliatory action if Kabul fails to stop its forces from carrying out unprovoked firing and shelling on innocent civilians on the Pakistani side of the border.

Addressing a weekly press briefing on Friday, Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said Pakistan was deeply concerned at Afghan forces opening fire on a census team and security personnel near the Pak-Afghan border at Chaman this morning, which has resulted in the death of at least nine civilians as per latest reports.

At least 42 others were injured as a result of the unprovoked firing and shelling, which continued at the time of filing of this report.

“The census team was carrying out its duties on Pakistani side of the border. We had informed Afghanistan in advance about the census exercise. Census exercise was being carried out inside Pakistani territory,” Zakaria told reporters in Islamabad.

He said that Afghan forces were continuously carrying out cross-border firing and shelling on Pakistani border villages since early Friday morning.

“We urge Afghan government to immediately halt firing on Pakistani villages. If Afghanistan does not stop this, then Pakistan reserves the right to carry out retaliatory action,” he said in a clear warning to Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government in Kabul.

Later in the day, the Foreign Office summoned the Afghan chargé d’affaires to record Pakistan’s protest over the unprovoked firing and shelling from across the border. The Foreign Office also handed over a demarche to Afghan chargé d’affaires Abdul Nasir Yousufi.

During the press briefing, the Foreign Office spokesperson also said that statements by Afghan President Ghani were mere allegations, and that such statements would not help the peace process in any way.

He said that Pakistan had tried its best to bring the Afghan Taliban and the Kabul government together in the peace process.

India’s negative role is increasing problems in Afghanistan, said the spokesperson, adding that New Delhi was using Afghan soil for its own hate-filled agenda.

Speaking about continuing brutality by Indian forces in Occupied Kashmir, Zakaria said that at least 25 Kashmiris, two women and 11 children, had been martyred in the restive valley during the last month.

He said that 646 Kashmiris were injured with batons and pellet guns while 447 Kashmiri Hurriyat leaders and students were arrested in the month of April alone.

A media blackout in Occupied Kashmir is stopped the news from reaching the rest of the world, he said

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