Afghanistan: Pakistan bribing Taliban to annex Afghan land

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Islamabad: Not content with eying Indian territory in Kashmir, Pakistan is also trying to gobble up Afghan land along the Durand Line by bribing Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers.

The Pakistan Army seeks to expand its territory along the Durand Line into Afghanistan and this is being done quietly, with the Taliban’s knowledge. 

Pak’s ‘under the table’ proposal is most likely to build an additional ‘safe zone’ within the Afghan border to ensure efficient border surveillance.

This new method to border fence has been communicated to the Taliban administration, reported Islam Khabar. Things went out of control in the last week of December when both countries’ border forces shot at one other after the Taliban obstructed border barrier work. The gunfight lasted more than half an hour before the situation was brought under control. Later on, there were rumours of brief clashes.

The Pakistan Army generals in Rawalpindi were alarmed by the border fighting and demanded an immediate meeting with Taliban officials. 

At these discussions, the secret bargain was hammered out. Border barrier work would be continued by consensus, according to the official statement.

On January 5, 2022, a Pakistan Army spokeswoman stated that the remaining 6% of border barrier work will proceed as planned, reported Islam Khabar.

Earlier, the Bab-e-Dosti (Door of Friendship) at the Chaman border on the Durand Line was roughly 1 km into Pakistan before the Taliban took control in Kabul in 1996. 

However, during the Taliban’s tenure, it was extended to a length of around 1.5 kilometres inside Afghanistan.

So this is not the first time when quiet negotiations are being made by the two neighbouring countries.

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Despite Afghan officials’ protests, Pakistan penetrated portions of Qala Luqman and Qala Jahangir in 2017. 

During Ashraf Ghani’s administration, there were many border confrontations between the two military forces on this dispute.

Pakistan urged the new administration to stop opposing the project after the Taliban took over Kabul with its support in August. When the Taliban administration refused to support Pakistan, it exerted pressure on the Afghan Taliban in a variety of ways, including through important government partners, reported Islam Khabar.

When a Taliban spokesperson objected to the border fence, Pakistan retaliated with a debilitating blockade at the Chaman border station.

Notably, Chaman is the second busiest border crossing point, with thousands of trucks and personnel passing through each day. For the cash-strapped Taliban administration, the crossing is a vital source of money.

Pakistan conveyed a strong message to the Taliban regime with border obstacles at Torkham and the withdrawal of Pakistan International Airlines flights from Kabul.

The complex tribal dynamics is also a problem for Pakistan to reach a conclusion over the Durand Line dispute since the tribes who live along the border have a larger stake in keeping the border unfenced and unpatrolled by Pakistan.

first published:Jan. 8, 2022, 4:04 p.m.

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