Afghan Taliban Intelligence Chief of Eastern Nangarhar province has warned Pakistani soldiers saying, “If you violate the boundary line, be ready for war with us. We love fighting you more than the Jews. We still have a lot of work to do."
|The Author is Former Director General of Information Systems and A Special Forces Veteran, Indian Army|
For the second time in December 2021, the Afghan Taliban and Pakistani forces clashed at the border along the Durand Line after Pakistan allegedly tried to extend the barbed wire fencing 10 km into the Afghanistan territory, which prompted Afghan Taliban soldiers to tear down the barbed wires. Local media reports indicated that the clash took place on December 30 in Charborjak district, Nimroz province in southeastern Afghanistan. According to the Afghanistan-based Khama Press (KP) news agency, the Taliban forces uprooted barbed wires erected by the Pakistan security forces and brought them to Afghanistan.
Earlier on December 19, 2021, Afghan Taliban soldiers disrupted the erection of a security fence by the Pakistani military along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Despite the fact that no Afghan government ever recognised the British-drawn Durand Line, Pakistan has fenced most of the 2,600 km border. A video clip circulated on social media covering the incident on December 19 showed Taliban soldiers had seized spools of barbed wire and one senior official telling the Pakistani soldiers stationed at the nearby security post not to try to fence the border again.
Despite the fact that no Afghan government ever recognised the British-drawn Durand Line, Pakistan has fenced most of the 2,600 km border
Enayatullah Khwarazmi, Afghan defence ministry spokesman says that Taliban forces stopped the Pakistani military from erecting what he described as “illegal” border fence along the eastern province of Nangarhar. In another video clip, Afghan Taliban Intelligence Chief of Eastern Nangarhar province, Bashir is seen warning Pakistani soldiers on the Durand Line, saying, “If you violate the boundary line, be ready for war with us. We love fighting you more than the Jews. We still have a lot of work to do."
Interestingly the first border incident on December 19 happened the day Pakistan was hosting a meeting of the Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) in Islamabad to discuss the humanitarian disaster in Afghanistan. Taliban officials later told foreign media that Taliban and Pakistani forces came face-to-face over the border incident and the situation was tense. They also said that following the incident there was cross border mortar fire from Pakistani territory further north along the frontier into Afghanistan's Kunar province on December 23.
Pakistan tried to downplay the incident of December 19 by saying that the issue has been resolved but it obviously has not. The Durand Line dividing the Pashtuns will continue to be Pakistan’s Achilles’ heel since Pakistan border fencing along this line is not acceptable to both the Afghan Taliban and the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
The Afghan Taliban interim government in Afghanistan is facing a monumental human tragedy with onset of winters and extreme shortages of food and medicine. Pakistan agreed for the passage of 50,000 metric tonnes of wheat India is giving as food aid to Afghanistan but then put stipulations knowing these could not be met (like all 50,000 metric tonnes should cross Pakistan in Afghan trucks from Wagah border within December 2021) despite the Afghan Taliban appealing to Pakistan. This is a sore point of Afghan Taliban with Pakistan.
Pakistan wanted the Afghan Taliban to clamp down on the TTP but it failed in acknowledging that the TTP leadership has strong bonds with various Afghan Taliban commanders and groups
The TTP resumed daily attacks with full force on the Pakistani security establishment and their supporters after Pakistan reneged on its promise to release the some 200 TTP fighters from prisons during the month-long ceasefire which had commenced on November 9, 2021. Apparently, Pakistan miscalculated in beseeching Sirajuddin Haqqani, Interior Minister of the Taliban Interim Government in Afghanistan, to broker the Pakistan-TTP ceasefire. Pakistan wanted the Afghan Taliban to clamp down on the TTP but it failed in acknowledging that the TTP leadership has strong bonds with various Afghan Taliban commanders and groups, who admired the TTP’s sacrifices in fighting against the US-NATO forces in Afghanistan.
Besides, why would the Afghan Taliban fight with the TTP when it already is fighting the Islamic State of Khorasan (ISKP)? The TTP is getting foreign fighters to promote radical Islamic jihad while some Taliban cadres and leaders are joining ISKP to take revenge on Chinese genocide in Xinjiang against the Uyghur and other Muslims. The TTP has recently published its Annual Performance Report in which it claims to have killed 500 plus Pakistani security personnel during 2021 in around 280 attacks.
As per a study conducted by Pakistan’s Institute for Conflict and Security Study (PICSS), militants carried out 294 attacks during 2021 in which 388 people were killed, including 184 civilians and 192 security forces personnel, while 606 persons were injuredincluding 389 civilians and 217 security forces personnel – overall a 56 per cent increase in 2021 in militancy over the previous year. But actual figures would likely be much more since in addition to the TTP, the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) too is attacking the Pakistani security establishment almost on daily basis.
As per Pakistan’s Institute for Conflict and Security Study (PICSS), there was overall a 56 per cent increase in 2021 in militancy over the previous year.
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has suffered a major setback in the local body elections in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) recently and Fawad Chaudhry, Imran’s Minister for Information and Broadcasting has announced that the PTI has decided to dissolve its organisational structure. According to one Pakistani TV channel, the defeat of PTI in KPK has been engineered by the Pakistani military who are considering propping up another puppet prime minister to replace Imran Khan in the next general elections.
The raison d'etre of the TTP always has been to overthrow the Pakistani government and establish rule of Sharia. Imposition of Sharia is also part of ideology of the Afghan Taliban and the Taliban and TTP closely linked internally. This is the very reason why the Taliban released over 2,000 TTP cadres and leaders from prisons in Afghanistan after taking control of the country.
The Afghan Taliban recently dissolved Afghanistan’s Independent Election Commission, Ministry of Parliamentary affairs and Ministry of Women’s Affairs, and instead have established a Ministry for Promotion of Virtue & Prevention of Vice – ushering stone-age restrictions on women. Like the TTP, why would they not want Sharia to be imposed in Pakistan? Not only is Pakistan in their crosshairs for Talibanisation, the bigger problem for Pakistan is likely loss of the Pashtun dominated areas along the Duran Line to the Taliban, particularly in North Waziristan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.