Pak Army deployed at Afghan border to stop conflict from spilling into Pakistan
The Pakistan government refrained from commenting on the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan and said that the conflict was an internal matter of Afghanistan and it has taken no sides. Pakistan also said that it will not welcome any more refugees from Afghanistan.
Pakistan deployed its army personnel at forward positions along the Afghanistan border as Taliban forces continue to capture almost two-thirds of Afghanistan following the withdrawal of US and NATO troops, according to a report by Dawn.
Pakistan minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed said that Pakistan soldiers have now replaced the Frontier Constabulary (FC), Levies Force and other militias from the frontline positions. US President Joe Biden earlier in June said that the United States will withdraw all its forces from Afghanistan by August 31 this year - a decade after it began a war in Afghanistan in retaliation to the 9/11 attacks.
“Regular army troops are manning the border after replacing the paramilitary forces,” Ahmed was quoted as saying by Dawn. He said the decision was taken owing to the volatile situation across the border. He further added that the decision was taken to contain the influx of refugees, armed army personnel and militants from Afghanistan into Pakistan.
“Paramilitary troops including the Frontier Constabulary, Levies, Rangers are deployed at the borders to deal with regular issues including illegal border crossing, smuggling. However, the current volatile situation (in Afghanistan) demands that regular military troops be deployed along the border,” Ahmed further added. Pakistan army spokesperson major general Babar Iftikhar said that the move to replace the paramilitary forces will help in preventing the conflict from spilling into Pakistan.
People familiar with the developments told Dawn that Pakistan Army faces the challenge of not only stopping the inflow of refugees but also the inflow of Afghan army personnel as well as Taliban fighters. They also said that Pakistan fears that the conflict could spill over to the mainland if Taliban forces enter Pakistan following Afghan army troops due to the strong Taliban presence in areas bordering Pakistan. More than 1,000 Afghan army personnel fled to Tajikistan in July to escape clashes with the Taliban.
Pakistan and Afghanistan governments are already at loggerheads after the Taliban took control of Spin Boldak border crossing. The Afghanistan Air Force also wanted to attack Taliban positions from the Pakistani side of the border. The proposal was met with disapproval from Islamabad.
“Pakistan does not want to see any such situation when the Afghan air force might use our airspace without permission to attack Taliban and in retaliation the militants attack Pakistani positions creating a new issue,” experts told Dawn. The Pakistan government refrained from commenting on the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan and said that the conflict was an internal matter of Afghanistan and it has taken no sides.
“It is time that the Afghan politicians and their military leadership learn to deal with their issues. We do not want to see that Pakistani soil is used in any way or by any side in the Afghan conflict, and we have assured the Afghan leadership of this policy,” Ahmed further added. Pakistan also said that it will not welcome any more refugees from Afghanistan.
There are two key border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan - Chaman in Balochistan and Torkham in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa - along with several other small trading points.
(with inputs from PTI)