Pakistan: firing reported on Indian and Afghan borders

September 22, 2008

Just two days after a suicide bomb attack on the Marriott killed 53 people in the heart of Islamabad, there were reports of trouble both on Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan and on the Line of Control with India.  

File photo of Indian bunkerOn the Afghan border, Pakistani troops fired on two U.S. helicopters that intruded into Pakistani airspace on Sunday night, forcing them to turn back to Afghanistan, according to a senior Pakistani security official.  On the Indian side, Pakistani and Indian troops exchanged fire across the Line of Control dividing Kashmir, in the latest breach of a ceasefire agreed in 2003. And as if that was not enough, Afghanistan’s top diplomat was kidnapped in Peshawar.

None of this is new in the sense that we have known about the tension on Pakistan’s borders, and its fragile internal security situation, for a long time. What is new is the scale of it. And how everything seems to be happening at once. And also the number of players involved — not only the United States (in mid presidential election), Afghanistan, Pakistan and India, but also the Pakistan Army and Pakistan’s new civilian government, along with the other powers on the sidelines, Saudi Arabia, China, and U.S. allies in NATO.

So which of these many players do you track most closely to assess what is happening in Pakistan? My hunch is to watch the Pakistan Army, and Pakistan’s powerful spy agency, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

File photo of Indian soldiers on Siachen/Pawel KopczynskiiIn a posting on the Pakistan Policy Blog, Arif Rafiq wrote about how army chief General Ashfaq Kayani had gone twice to the frontlines with India, each time after the civilian government had talked of making peace over Kashmir (small quibble – the photo in his blog looks like it was taken at the brigade headquarters at Yuching, rather than on the Siachen glacier, which is in Indian hands).

The Pakistan Army, and by extension the ISI, rightly or wrongly, sees itself as the ultimate defender of Pakistan. It would seem obvious that the Pakistan Army would not tolerate its authority being challenged on both fronts — by U.S. raids over the border with Afghanistan on one side, and by peace moves with India on the other. I realise too that there are many who argue that only democracy can save Pakistan.

The point of this posting is not to say who to judge. Simply who to watch. And who do you watch when a country’s borders are fragile and its capital city attacked?


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What an mess. Pakistan and India preparing for war! Pakistan essentially harboring Al Kaeda and the Taliban, intentional or not. How does United States eliminate Al Kaeda/Taliban without creating more terrorists? Pakistan and India are nuclear powers, and will use nuclear weapons on each other without reservation. Maybe the United States should bring all our troops home and just give up on the Middle East and let the chips fall where they may?

Posted by P. Walker | Report as abusive

In Pakistan, who controls the Army?. Who is responsible for the activities of the ISI?. What powers does the newly elected civilian government has?. Is it a dummy government to show off to the rest of the world that Pakistan is democratic?. What kind of a nation is it if its government goes in one direction, Army and intelligent agency in the other and Terrorists have their own freedom and perfect ground for breeding.

Posted by Sudhir | Report as abusive

This is biased reporting. The Indian army positions came into heavy firing by Pakistani army. The firing was done to provide cover to militants trying to cross over from Pakistan to India.
Indian army has also lodged a formal complaint with Pakistani army about this.
If only the Pakistani army and ISI stopped supporting the militants things would have been better.
Also, if the Pakistani army is strong enough to fight back the Americans and not allow them to cross over in pursuit of militants. What is stopping them from pursuing the miltitants instead?
One doesn’t fire at its friends.. people fire at enemies.
Pkistan army and ISI should come out clean as to whom they consider as their friends and whom they consider as enemies.
Enough of this double game that they have been playing for so many years now.

@ Myra, please give all the details of firing on the border including why it was done, hiding facts is as good as telling a lie.

Posted by Aman | Report as abusive

Looks like pakistan has got in its mouth more than it can chew.. ALl the troubles were created by itself.. providing safe heavens to terrorists to get money from america, supporting miliants to cross border terrorism and putting the show of terrorist attacks with in pakistan for the sake of politics and winning elections.
It created allthese for itself and is not able to get control of situation..pakistan is in the situation is biggest chaos not knowing what to do next all evils out on streets out of control on there won..and all backfiring !!

Posted by Om | Report as abusive

Mr. Walker,
Yes it will be better if US doesn’t intervene in the middle east or anywhere else until unless directly affected by the situation.
As for India and Pakistan using nuclear weapons with glee.
Please read the “no first use policy” of the Indian Government. Which is thousand times better than pre-emptive war policy that US follows.

Posted by Aman | Report as abusive

What rubbish indians are talking about?Idon,t know when they will grow up.All the talk about how Pakistan is interfering in their home,all evil happening in india is the fault of Pakistan.They must stop accusing ISI all the time.What their own RAW trying to undo Pakistan.
Trouble is they have never accepted Pakistan in heir heart.The day they will do it will open their eyes once for all.
Stop comenting negatively on Pakistan permanantly and live like a good neighbour and not a brute.

Posted by sardar | Report as abusive

I understand some postings here about how the US should no longer involve itself in problems in the region, and certainly any more of the Bush White House style of interference is not to be tolerated, but the reality is that the world can longer ignore the situation altogether.
The extremists use the biased US led interference over the years in the middle east to justify their existence, and so the getting rid of the threat they pose requires us all to cooperate for a common and just good so that they no longer have the excuse or the support on the street. Pakistan is a haven for extremists because of that, and they are the cause for Pakistan’s instability. The world needs to get involved in fixing this, but only in a bipartisan way with a clear plan.

Posted by Bill | Report as abusive

The stakes are high, at this critical moment it is very important for Pakistan armed forces to keep a close watch on its border with India. India has recently deployed six SU-30 fighter jets in Kashmir. The line of control needs to be monitored in Kashmir, no doubt on the western border, the US cross border attacks are being retaliated. Actually, it is a message to all sides, President Karzai, the US, Indians and to the millitants that if anyone tries to cross into Pakistan’s borders, they will not stay alive. Either get killed or captured. Welcome to Pakistan.
If you wanna come into Pakistan, contact the nearest Pakistani embassy and apply for a visa.

Posted by Umair | Report as abusive

Pray enlighten us as what sort of “once for all eye opener” is it??????

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

umair-Paki Rambo
who wants to cross over to Hell!the land of death & misery,we are most content with our share of the earth,you hellish guy just lay off your dirty hands,

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive

It is really interesting to see what a dramatic turn the things have taken and in a very short period of time.
It seems obvious for India to play the Blame game, when the Indian Embassy in Kabul was attacked the Indian foreign minister had said we would respond to Pakitstan in a language that they understand. It is not surprising why the tensions have risen in recent days b/w India and Pakistan but what is surprising is that the Pakistan Army has taken a stand against the Americans for the first time and its good. ISI breeding the talebans may be but if yes why not we all Pakistanis know that once the US is done with Afghanistan its Pakistan next, so why let them be done with Afghanistan at all. Talking about the Nukes I dont think they would be used either by India or Pakistan but cant really say about US. The ISI is the brains of the Pakistani Defence and as the former CIA intelligence Director William Casey had said that the only other Intelligence Agency after Mossad to have been trained to tooth by the CIA is ISI there is no question why the US should not be worried about that. I think the Pakistan Army have decided that it is now rather then never.

Posted by Reza | Report as abusive

Good brain storming, It’s becoming quite obvious now, that under the superficial drama of humouring the common Americans- the cowboy hunt of Osama show, running live in Afghanistan , it was previously misconstrued that the Americans are actually making ground for an Iran invasion, but it now seems it’s more to do with dismantling Pakistan, the Nuclear Paranoia game, similar to the Iraqi chemical weapon hype, is being played at full blast(ironically it’s the Pakistanis’ who are howling more louder ‘nuclear’ ‘nuclear’ from their rooftops & falling right in the NATO lap), The show is on.

Posted by Indian | Report as abusive


Thank you for your response Sir. Regarding: “no first use policy” of the Indian Government, I do not put much credence in such an policy. Every government has an exception rule to all policies, transparent or not to the public eye. From my view the Pakistan government is unstable, and I call into question the security of their nuclear arsenal. Some interject the Pakistan Government is an puppet of the U.S. Government, I suggest they are wrong. Just recently the Pakistan Army fired at U.S. Helicopters regarding border integrity, this action clearly suggests differently. I do not agree with the U.S. Policy on Iraq, however I believe it essentially stopped an nuclear arms race between Iraq and Iran. Better to deal with Iran, then with two radical Governments chasing nuclear weapons. The United States spent nearly $1 trillion on Iraq, and thousands of Americans making the ultimate sacrifice for the Iraq citizens. Was it worth it, as it appears unappreciated?

Posted by P. Walker | Report as abusive

Mr Walker,
Well as for your confidence in Indian Government’s no first use policy. I can’t do much. But I do have the confidence in it because no government in India will survive with a preemptive war policy. Indians do not want a war and are not paranoid about middle east or terrorists, even though Indians are more directly and seriously affected by the terrorists.

I agree with you that Pakistan government is unstable and its a huge risk that we will face if their nuclear arsenal fall in the wrong hands. I also agree Pakistan government is not a puppet of US. If it had been that way, the terrorists would have been rounded up by now.

In the same breath it is not the prerogative a few nations to decide which country should have nuclear weapons and which shouldn’t. If US can have it so can any other nation.

As for Iraq, even the Americans now agree that there was no WMD in Iraq. For most of the world except for Republicans I guess, WMD stands for Weapons of Mass Deception.
And pray tell me what is so wrong if Iraq or Iran has a nuclear weapon? They do have the brains to know that if they use it they will be nuked as well.
As for appreciation. I am sorry you lost soldiers in a useless war. On the money part, you chose to spend it that way so i don’t care. I am more sorry for the people of Iraq who lost their house or may be a limb or two.
I guess that means nothing to you, after all they were not Americans.
Sir, democracy means equality in treatment. A democratic world means all countries and their respective citizens be treated equally.
It is not US’s responsibility to impose a particular form of government on other countries. If some choose communism then so be it and if some choose monarchy/dictatorship then so be it. If you don’t like them don’t deal with them. There is no need to raid them.
How will you feel or react if other people raid your house just because you happen to own a very powerful and unique gun? Will u be grateful to them or will you condemn their actions?
I don’t believe for a moment that it is USA’s responsibility to get rid of countries or governments just because they don’t agree with US on some issue or the other. Learn to Live and Let Live.

Posted by Aman | Report as abusive

Thank You Aman! I’m with you on most of your views! You are right with WMD in Iraq, most Americans believe President Bush mislead the American Public to invade Iraq. There is U.S. Officials who admit intelligence was grossly inaccurate with Iraq and its nuclear ambitions and biological weapons. When all this information surfaced, it was then stated to ease public perception that it was better to fight the war on terrorism in Iraq, then on our homeland. This almost appears as if it was better for Iraq’s to die then Americans. Unfortunately, the price tag cannot be measured in dollars, but as you stated Sir, Iraq’s lost their homes and limbs, and for that I’m very sorry to hear. However Saddam and his henchmen killed many Iraq’s, the numbers are so vast we may never know the true numbers. Mankind is it’s own worst enemy, and I’m very worried for my children, your children, and the worlds children as the nations leaders fail to work together to bring unity and peace to all of mankind. Greed, power, and religion will always prevail, and many of men will die to protect it or obtain it. I fear it is mans destiny to destroy the human race as we know it.

Posted by P Walker | Report as abusive