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Thousands of Afghans stranded at Pak border to flee Taliban

KANDAHAR CITY (Afghanistan): For nearly two weeks, thousands of Afghans including women and children have been stranded near the Pakistan border in the Spin Boldak district of southern Kandahar province, reported local media.

Afghans and their families, who hail from Afghanistan’s northern and eastern provinces have been in a hurry to leave the country soon after Kabul fell to the Taliban. Islamabad is allowing only those people who have either Pakistani ID cards or Kandahar ID cards, Pajhwok Afghan News said on Monday.   

One of the thousands of stranded Afghans at the Spin Boldak, Abdul Wadud, said that the Taliban’s armed men and Pakistani forces aren’t allowing people to enter Pakistan. He underlined that thousands of Afghans daily gather at the border to cross into Pakistan but they have been unable to do so, according to Pajhwok Afghan News.

Pakistani and Afghan soldiers guarding the Chaman border

Wadud hails from the northern city of Mazar-e-Sharif and has been attempting to leave the country as he fears for his children’s future under the Taliban regime.

Afghans have also said that some families were forced to pay nearly 5,000 to 6,000 rupees to smugglers to send them to Pakistan.

Zabihullah Mujahid, the Taliban’s spokesperson, had said in a news conference in Kabul that problems with Pakistan had increased in the country’s port areas.

According to Pajhwok Afghan News, he stressed that the number of Afghans in Spin Boldak and Torkham who wanted to cross into Pakistan was higher than ever and they were not allowed by the Pakistani side.

Mujahid also said that the victims included patients, refugees and even traders whom Pakistan had blocked.

IS-K, Al-Qaeda to use Afghan refugee’s flow

The Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) and al-Qaeda will try to use Afghan refugees’ flow to sneak their members into the US and European countries, security experts have warned.

Dr David Lowe, a senior research fellow at Leeds Beckett University Law School and head of a consultancy business in terrorism and security, said: “It is to be expected that al-Qaeda or Daesh-based Afghanistan would have tried and have some of their members obtained access onto the flights leaving Afghanistan to Europe and the counter-terrorism authorities will be aware of this.”

Experts have said that the US and Europe have implemented a filter system from checks at Kabul Airport prior to boarding aircraft to the interim checks. The system gives officials time to check the flight lists and background checks at individuals’ destination countries, reported Sputnik.

A Pakistani soldier keeps guard at the Friendship Gate, crossing point at the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Chaman, Pakistan, March 7, 2017.

David Otto, counter-terrorism and defence specialist and director of the Geneva Centre for Africa Security and Strategic Studies, has said that these checks have limitations too.

According to Sputnik, he said: “[One] can only rely on documents and previous records. With the collapse of the Afghanistan government, there have been concerns about people faking documents to make it through. This is one of the reasons the US has taken steps to process individuals from third-party countries to control the risk. Despite these measures, groups like ISIS-K and al-Qaeda will encourage its sympathisers to beat the system”.

Otto has also underlined that the West and Europe are at severe risk of terrorist attacks from people who have sneaked themselves into the country posing as affiliated to the US or any other country.

Militant Taliban patrolling in Kandahar city

Recently, Germany has ordered background checks for nearly 200 of the 30,000 Afghan refugees who were processed at the country’s Ramstein Air Base. Officials had marked them ‘red’, according to the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley.

On Sunday, while speaking to Fox News, General Mark Milley said, “if the evacuee has some sort of derogatory information, it will pop up as red or yellow”. However, he also expressed his satisfaction with the vetting process.

Pakistan not in favour to includ India in Afghan Troika

Pakistan is not in favour of including India in the Extended Troika on Afghanistan which consists of Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan.

Pakistani Ambassador to Russia Shafqat Ali Khan told Sputnik, “About India’s joining, I have not seen the statement. There is a standing invitation for Iran to join the Troika Plus whenever it wants. So far, they have not taken a decision to join it. They have so far not responded, conveyed their interest in joining. But I haven’t seen Foreign Minister Lavrov’s statement that says that India will join the Troika plus format. For us, India is not a candidate for Troika plus,”

Iran is yet to respond to the invitation to join Troika plus.

Currently, the Extended Troika includes Russia, the United States, China and Pakistan.

“Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has said that discussions have been held on including New Delhi and Tehran in the format,” Khan added, reported Sputnik. (ANI)