Taliban Ramps Up Defences Along Durand Line as Its Army Chief Warns Pakistan Against Fencing Border
While the Durand Line is recognised as the international border between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Kabul has never recognised the de-facto boundary, which was established by British colonialists in 1893. Fugitive Afghan leader Ashraf Ghani, in 2017, said that Afghanistan would "never accept" the Durand Line.
The Taliban* has deployed its elite ‘Badri-313’ commandoes to Afghanistan's border with Pakistan, as the Islamist group ramps up its defences in a bid to keep the Pakistani forces from completing the fencing of the 2,670-km Durand Line.
The Badri-313 Unit
is reported to be one of the most advanced fighting units under Taliban rule.
As per a video surfacing on social media, a convoy of Badri commandoes was seen making its way to the Boldak District in Kandahar Province, located along the Pakistan border.
(The tweet reads: 'Badr' unit moving towards the Boldak border)
Syed Azeem Agha
, an erstwhile Taliban fighter based in Kandahar, told Sputnik that the Taliban fighters are now being deployed at more than 30 newly-developed border outposts located along the Durand Line.
21 October 2021, 18:48 GMT
On Tuesday, the Taliban’s army chief Qari Fasihuddin, while speaking to local media, once again called upon Pakistan to stop the ongoing process of fencing the Durand Line (a translation of the tweet embedded below).
Fasihuddin also pointed out during his remarks that the Taliban’s army now comprises more than 80,000 trained personnel. During a publicised visit to the Af-Pak border last month, Fasihuddin described the Durand Line as a “hypothetical” border.
In spite of warm ties between the Taliban and Pakistan, the issue of fencing of the Durand Line by Islamabad has been creating friction in bilateral ties.
Several videos that have emerged on social media over the past two months show the Taliban fighters uprooting the newly-erected fence in the border provinces of Nimroz, Nangahar and Kunar. Overall, 12 Afghan provinces are located along the Durand Line.
The Taliban, much like its predecessors, has been opposed to the Islamabad-led fencing process. It argues that the fencing would divide the ethnic Pashtuns
who live on both sides of the border. Most of the Taliban fighters as well as its senior leadership are Pashtuns as well.
As per local broadcaster TOLO News report, Sanaullah Sangin, another senior Taliban commander, warned on 10 January that the Islamist group has “never accepted” the Durand Line as the international border.
Sangin has also accused the Pakistani military of launching mortar attacks
on the bordering Kunar Province over the fencing dispute.
“You have seen some days ago that they [Pakistani military] fired some mortars. In response, we fired 32 mortar rounds,” he reportedly said.
The remarks by the Taliban commanders come barely a week after Abdul Qahar Balkhi, the Taliban's Foreign Ministry spokesperson, expressed hope that the fencing issue would be resolved through “diplomatic channels”.
In spite of repeated reservations by the Taliban, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said on 3 January that the fencing “will continue” to take place.
“Afghanistan is our brotherly and friendly country. Some quarters want to unnecessarily raise this issue, which is not in Pakistan’s interest,” Qureshi also said while addressing a question on the matter during a press conference.
Pakistani military spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar echoed Qureshi’s views last week, as he vowed during a press conference that the fencing would be completed and “will remain in its place”.
Even as differences between the Taliban and Pakistan have emerged over the Durand Line dispute, Islamabad also continues to remain one of the Taliban’s primary international backers.
For months, Prime Minister Imran Khan’s government has been urging the international community to move towards recognising the Taliban in order to avert an imminent humanitarian disaster on account of the freezing of Kabul’s federal funds in US-based financial institutions.
* Organisation under the UN sanctions for terrorist activities