Islamabad to continue fencing off its border with Afghanistan
Pakistan’s foreign minister reiterated his country’s border policy yesterday. Recently, Afghan Taliban dismantled part of the fence dividing the two countries. Since the Taliban seized Kabul again, thousands of fanatics have poured into the Islamic Emirate. Attacks by the Pakistani Taliban and the Islamic State rose considerably in 2021.
Islamabad (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Pakistan las undertaken diplomatic steps vis-à-vis Afghanistan to settled an issue that has emerged recently over the Durand line, which marks the border between the two countries but which Kabul has never recognized.
At a press conference yesterday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi explained that Pakistan intends to protect its interests by continuing to fence off the border, which runs for over 2,600 kilometres.
“We have installed the fence and, God willing, this effort will continue,” Qureshi said. “Afghanistan is our friendly neighbour,” he added. “We are engaged with them, as some confusions have emerged, and we shall be able to resolve them through diplomatic channels.”
Last weekend the Taliban dismantled a portion of the fence that Pakistan began to build in 2017 to block smugglers and militants moving across the border.
On Sunday, a spokesman for the Taliban Defence Ministry criticised the fence project, saying Pakistan has “no right to erect barbed wire along the Durand Line and separate the tribes on both sides of the line.”
In a recent online video, Afghan Taliban intelligence chief in the Eastern Nangarhar province said, “if you violate the boundary line, be ready for war with us. We love fighting you more than the Jews”.
The Durand Line is named after Sir Mortimer Durand, the British Raj official who in 1893 agreed the border with the then Afghan Emir Abdur Rahman Khan, splitting communities that still live in the divided region and who would like to create an independent Pashtūnistān.
Pakistan inherited the border after it became independent in 1947 but the dividing line has been the source of tensions between the two countries ever since.
The fall of Kabul in August 2021 to the Taliban galvanised not only Afghan Pashtuns, but also Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Pakistan’s Taliban. Since then, thousands of fanatics have crossed into Afghanistan, answering calls for support from Afghan Taliban.
Taliban authorities estimate that between 5,000 and 10,000 fighters have moved to Afghanistan in the past four months, 10 times more than the normal movements that have occurred in the past.
This signals the need for the Emirate to obtain reinforcements to maintain security in a huge country that is only partially under Taliban control.
In 2021 the local branch of the Islamic State, Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), carried out 339 attacks, up from 82 in 2020.
Starting with the Doha agreement of February 2020, signed between the Trump administration and the Afghan Taliban, the TTP guerrillas have seen their ranks swell:
Since July 2020, at least 10 groups of fighters have joined the Pakistani Taliban in order to fight the Pakistani government and impose Shari‘a (Islamic law) in the country.
In 2020, the TPP carried out 95 attacks, rising to 282 in 2021.