India, Afghanistan halt Pakistan’s construction work along disputed borders

Pakistan has had to endure pressure from its neighbors in two separate border disputes recently. While the Afghan Taliban administration and its military wing strongly opposed the temporary border fence along the contested Durand Line, India scored a point against Pakistan along the Real Line of Control ( LOC), the de facto border in the Kashmir region.

While Pakistan is said to be deeply involved in Afghan affairs after the US military pulled out of the country and established a good relationship with the Taliban leadership, the border incident may have come as a surprise to Islamabad.

According to local media reports, Taliban militants destroyed barbed wire constructed by Pakistani security forces along the Durand Line in the eastern region of Nangarhar, indicating renewed border tensions between the two countries.

Durand Line (in red), the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan (via Wikimedia Commons)

The Durand Line is the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan which was drawn by the British and later inherited by Pakistan. Afghanistan has always refused to recognize this border, which has led to a decades-long dispute between the two neighbors.

The barbed wire was dismantled and sent to Afghanistan, according to the Afghan media outlet Khama Press (KP). Video of the incident had gone viral, showing Afghan forces threatening their Pakistani counterparts with serious ramifications if barbed wire was again erected along the border.

“If you look bad at Afghanistan next time, I will come here and make this area (a few hundred yards from Pakistani soil) my front line to wage war with you,” an Afghan official said in the video. . “I swear by Allah, waging war with you makes me happier than waging war with the Jews.”

Pakistani soldiers launched artillery at Kunar province following the incident in Gushta region, Nangarhar province, according to Khama Press. This indicates that both sides have increased the stake along the disputed border.

It’s ironic given that Pakistan is said to have played a key role in all of the US-Taliban talks and subsequent events that saw the US withdrawal and takeover of the country by the Taliban.

India, on the other hand, Pakistan’s big rival, has stopped construction along the LOC. However, it is not clear whether Pakistani rangers were building barracks or bunkers there.

The Indian military had officially raised the issue of Pakistani Rangers who were launching a construction project just across the LoC, opposite Kupwara district, in the Union of Indian Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan’s action apparently violated mutual agreements and understandings on maintaining a de facto border standstill, unless the other party was notified in advance.

Pakistani Rangers who had started to build a structure across the line of control, but which was within 500 meters of the fence, immediately halted their work.

As a rule, neither Indians nor Pakistanis are allowed to develop anything within a radius of 500 meters without first notifying the other party.

The Taliban-Pakistan equations

The first Taliban government was overthrown by the United States after the September 11 attacks. Under pressure from US and NATO forces, Taliban militants and leaders were dispersed. Many of them eventually fled to Pakistan.

While it is true that Pakistan was an ally of the United States, it is also true that fighters and senior Taliban leaders took refuge in Balochistan and Waziristan. Baluchistan was also home to the powerful Quetta Shura, which carried out all decisions of the Taliban. Pakistan has consistently denied these allegations.

Many ministries and senior officials of the former Afghan administration denounced Pakistan’s involvement in the growing Taliban domination. However, after the Taliban control of Afghanistan, Pakistanis are fearful.

The Taliban were using American combat vehicles before their march to Kabul in August 2021. (via Twitter)

The Taliban freed a number of “Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan” fanatics operating in the tribal areas bordering Pakistan soon after taking power in August, according to the BBC.

Even before the Taliban came to power, the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) posed a significant threat to Pakistan. For more than a decade, the Pakistani military has waged a war against the TTP on the Afghan border. In Pakistan, negotiations and agreements with the TTP remain a delicate subject.

The TTP and the Taliban share ideological similarities. The TTP, like the Taliban, seeks to break Sharia law in areas bordering Pakistan. The TTP could gain more influence and expand its activities if the Taliban take control, the BBC said.

This could lead to a new wave of tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan and, given the Taliban’s new assertion of the Durand Line, things could heat up between the two countries which have so far established a front. friendly.

File: Taliban Veterans Turning Arms.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File image: Former Taliban fighters surrender.jpg – Wikimedia Commons

To make matters worse, the recent remark by Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid in questioning Pakistan’s democratic framework came as a shock after all the help Pakistan has reportedly offered the Taliban in their quest for reorganization until their final takeover.

In a television interview, Zabiullah Mujahid said: “The political structure in Pakistan does not reflect the Islamic system. Their religious law does not allow this system to work. Religion does not matter to them; only growth is vital.

The split in the Taliban government became visible soon after he came to power. The Taliban’s Kandahari division led by Mullah Mohammed Yaqoob Omari and the Kabul faction led by Sirajuddin Haqqani reportedly clashed.

The Kandahari party did not want the Pakistani spy agency ISI to interfere. Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, on the other hand, allegedly used Haqqanis to play power games in Kabul, according to a Hindustan Times report.

So, if tensions with India are normal for Pakistan, Islamabad should be wary of the other neighbor.

Bittersweet Ties

Although problems remain between Pakistan and the Taliban, the former has pleaded for unhindered aid to an impoverished Afghanistan. Islamabad also applauded the UN Security Council resolution easing the flow of supplies to Afghanistan on December 23 and expressed optimism that the world would respond quickly to the needs of the Afghan people, the Dawn newspaper reported. .

The Security Council has approved a resolution presented by the United States which authorizes the delivery of humanitarian aid to Afghanistan in order to avoid the economic collapse of the country. While Pakistan welcomes the aid, on the one hand, it called for the thawing of Afghan assets in order to alleviate its economic difficulties.

For his part, the Afghan Taliban security chief in Paktia province thanked the Pakistani government and its people for supporting him in a difficult time, according to a video that surfaced on Twitter.

Nonetheless, a clearer picture of the real nature of the bilateral relationship between the two neighbors divided by a disputed border will emerge in the days to come.

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