Concerns conveyed to Afghan Taliban on fencing incidents

Pakistan has conveyed its concerns at the highest level to the interim Afghan Taliban government over the repeated incidents where some local Taliban soldiers tried to remove fencing along the border

The Afghan Taliban leadership was told that Pakistan was observing "maximum restraint" to avoid any escalation in tensions, a senior Pakistani official told The Express Tribune here on Sunday

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue

Nevertheless, Pakistan is expected to issue a formal statement on the issue within 24 hours, as per official sources

In recent weeks, there have been repeated incidents along the Pak-Afghan border where some local Taliban soldiers tried to remove the fence

The first incident took place on December 18, a day before Pakistan was to host an extraordinary conference of the foreign ministers of Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) on Afghanistan’s humanitarian situation

The acting Afghan foreign minister also attended the daylong meeting, which agreed to set up a trust fund to help Afghanistan prevent the humanitarian catastrophe

A video circulated on social media showed Taliban soldiers seizing spools of barbed wire and one senior official warning Pakistani soldiers stationed at security posts not to try to fence the border again

On Sunday, another video was shared on the social media showing Taliban fighters breaking polls one after the other using a truck

As per Kabul News, in a video statement the Afghan defence ministry spokesperson said they would not allow fencing since it "divides" the families on both sides of the border

There was no formal reaction from Pakistan to the remarks

But officials in background discussions said Pakistan was taking up the issue at all levels

According to Pakistan’s assessment, there seems some local Taliban commanders who were provoking Pakistani forces on their own

Pakistan, the official pointed out, was observing maximum restraint

One official claimed that the Afghan Taliban leadership was also worried about the conduct of their low-level soldiers since they understood the importance of Pakistan cooperation in this difficult juncture

Read More: Pakistan to help recover US hostage held by Afghan Taliban The official also said there were other elements such as smugglers who might be trying to exploit the situation

"That is why we are handling the situation with care," the official said

The official said there were other major issues to deal with and hence Pakistan did not want to get bogged down with these incidents

"We are looking at a bigger picture

There may be elements in Afghanistan who want to provoke us," the official said

But Pakistan, in a formal statement, is likely to make it clear that there will be no compromise on the border since it is a settled issue

The fencing would also continue, according to the official

The latest incident happened despite earlier claims by a senior official that both sides had resolved the issue

The fencing of the 2600-kilometre-long and rugged border has remained one of the contentious issues between Pakistan and Afghanistan

The previous administration in Kabul also objected to the fencing of the border and even the Afghan side tried to stop Pakistan from erecting a fence

Pakistan, however, went ahead with the fencing and as per officials, 90 per cent of the border with Pakistan is now fenced

The fencing is part of the border mechanism Pakistan has been working on for years in order to not just regulate the movement of people but to also deny terrorists on both sides to shuttle between the two borders easily

The fencing of the border has remained one of the contentious issues even during the previous administration

There were even border clashes in the past causing casualties

But Pakistan never backtracked from fencing the border as it considered the initiative as vital to prevent free movement of terrorists

In the past, Islamabad questioned Kabul's opposition to the fencing as it would benefit both sides

Date:04-Jan-2022 Reference:View Original Link