Taliban flag raised above Afghanistan's border crossing with Pakistan in major advance
- The control of the border crossing between the Pakistani town of Chaman and the Afghan town of Wesh could be the most strategic objective they have captured so far.
The Taliban fighters are reported to have taken control of one of the main border crossings with Pakistan, replacing the Afghan government’s flag with their own. Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid on Wednesday said in a statement that the fighters have captured an “important border town called Wesh.”
The control of the border crossing between the Pakistani town of Chaman and the Afghan town of Wesh could be the most strategic objective they have captured so far amid rapid gains across the country as US forces pull out from the region. The crossing is the second busiest entry point and the main link between its vast southwest and Pakistani ports.
A Pakistani official said the Taliban militants have taken down the Afghan government flag from atop the ‘Friendship Gate’, reported new agency Reuters. While the Afghan government asserted that they were in control of the Spin Boldak border district in Kandahar province, Pakistani officials said the Taliban controlled the Wesh border posts.
"Wesh, which has great importance in Afghan trade with Pakistan and other countries, has been captured by the Taliban," a Pakistani security official deployed at the border area told Reuters.
Amid the Afghan government’s struggle to retain control of its territories, foreign ministers of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) discussed the issue which is said to have major implications for the regional security. During a meeting in Dushanbe, External affairs minister S Jaishankar presented a three-point roadmap for an end state in Afghanistan, including cessation of violence and terrorist attacks against civilians and state representatives.
The minister said that the world and the Afghan people want an “independent, neutral, unified, peaceful, democratic and prosperous nation”, adding that the challenge is to act seriously on these beliefs as there are forces at work “with a very different agenda.” He stressed the need to reach an “acceptable compromise” that reflects the Doha process, Moscow format and Istanbul process.
Meanwhile, the Taliban have seized other major border crossings, in Herat, Farah and Kunduz provinces in the north and west, threatening regional security. Taking to Twitter, Afghanistan vice president Amrullah Saleh said that the Taliban were forcing members of a small ethnic minority to either convert to Islam or leave their homes in the northern province of Badakhshan. The Taliban’s rapid advances have also caused concern for the rights of women and girls as they were barred from school and most work under the group’s harsh version of Islamic law.
(With inputs from agencies)