ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has said Pakistan army soldiers had replaced paramilitary Frontier Constabulary, Levies and other forces on front line positions along the border with Afghanistan as Taliban insurgents gain control of more and more territory along the neighbouring country’s frontiers.
The Pentagon has said Taliban insurgents’ control now extends to over half of half Afghanistan’s district centers. The Taliban are also putting pressure on the outskirts of half of the provincial capitals, trying to isolate them. US intelligence assessments have warned that the Afghan government could fall in as little as six months, officials have told Reuters.
“Now regular army troops are manning the border after replacing the paramilitary forces,” Ahmed said in a television interview on Friday night. “Paramilitary troops, including the Frontier Constabulary, Levies, Rangers are deployed at the borders to deal with regular issues, including illegal border crossing, smuggling etcetera. However, the current volatile situation [in Afghanistan] demands that regular military troops be deployed along the border.”
“Paramilitary troops including the Frontier Constabulary, Levies, Rangers are deployed at the borders to deal with regular issues including illegal border crossing, smuggling etc,” the minister said. “However, the current volatile situation (in Afghanistan) demands that regular military troops be deployed along the border.”
Military spokesperson Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar too recently said at a TV channel that troops were manning the border and the move would help prevent escalation of conflict from the Afghan soil or airspace to the Pakistani side.
Meanwhile, sources in the armed forces said that the most serious challenge in the current scenario was not just the inflow of refugees or any infiltrators in the garb of refugees but the movement of Afghan army personnel or Taliban fighters.
“We have seen that more than 1,000 Afghan soldiers fled into Tajikistan early in July to escape clashes with Taliban,” an officer said. “But Taliban’s presence in the northern areas of Afghanistan is not as strong as it is in the areas bordering Pakistan. Therefore, if Afghan army troops enter Pakistan while fleeing fighting, there are chances that Taliban would follow them and the conflict would spill over inside Pakistan, and it could spread to the mainland too.”
Military spokesperson Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar had also recently told a TV channel that Pakistan army troops were now manning the Afghan border and the move would help prevent the escalation of violence from Afghan soil or airspace to the Pakistani side.
The Taliban’s swift territorial gains are rattling Afghans just as the United States withdraws from a war that succeeded in punishing Al-Qaeda following its September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington but failed to deliver anything close to peace for Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden has promised to provide financial assistance to Afghan forces and to redouble diplomatic efforts to revive stalled peace talks.
But the Taliban have not responded to calls from 15 diplomatic missions and the NATO representative in Afghanistan to halt their military offensives. The insurgents and the Afghan government also failed to agree on a cease-fire at talks in Doha during this week’s Eid holidays.
In the past, the Taliban have called short cease-fires for Eid, saying they wanted to let Afghans spend them in peace.
US military officials believe the Taliban are seeking to end the war with a battlefield victory, instead of at the negotiating table.