The Spin Boldak town in Kandahar province of Afghanistan leads to the Chaman township in Balochistan province of Pakistan (Image: Google Maps)
The fight between Taliban and the Afghan army now has reached the doors of Pakistan. On Wednesday, The Taliban said that their fighters said they have consolidated their positions in the Spin Boldak district of Afghanistan after taking control of all important check-posts around the captured towns along Pak-Afghan border.
But on Thursday, the Afghanistan army claimed that it had retaken the town and check posts. Amid claims and counterclaims, there have been reports of heavy fighting between the both warring groups.
According to Afghan intelligence, Pakistan has been providing full support to the Taliban there, and truck loads of weapons were seen crossing the Pakistan-Afghan border.
Fearing air attacks from the Afghan air force, Pakistani air force has issued a warning to the Afghan Government to keep Afghan planes 10 nautical miles from the border with Spin Boldak.
The Afghan First Vice President Amrullah Saleh took on Twitter on Thursday late night and claimed that the Pakistani air force has warned the Afghan National Army (ANA) and the Afghan Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from the bordering Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force.
Breaking: Pakistan air force has issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas
— Amrullah Saleh (@AmrullahSaleh2) July 15, 2021
To prove his claim, Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh shared two voice messages with the Institute for War & Peace Reporting (IWPR). According to the Voice of America (VOA), in the first audio clip, an Afghan Air Force official was saying that the Pakistan Air Force warned Afghan Air Force's A-3 aircraft near Spin Boldak to stay 10 nautical miles (18 kilometres) away from the border.
"Operations have not been coordinated with us (Pakistan) and if you (Afghan military aircraft) do not maintain a distance of 5 nautical miles (6 km) from the border, we will not be able to cooperate, and we will hit back,” the official of the PAF was heard in the audio clip as reported the VOA.
Calling it a lie that Afghan plane was near the border, Saleh said that Afghan Air Force has pictures, sounds and maps of the flight lines to prove his point. Saleh blamed that the Pakistan Air Force is now "providing close air support to the Taliban in certain areas". Pakistan has denied these “allegations.”
Meanwhile Pakistani media quoting to the Pakistani Custom officials of the Chaman check post reports that the offices of Afghan government have also been taken over by the Taliban forces. “We can see armed Taliban sitting at Friendship Gate on Afghan side while hoisting the Taliban flag,” Pakistani custom official told the media.
A video shared by the militants showed their flag with a Quranic verse flying in place of the Afghanistan flag high above the Friendship Gate at the border crossing the Afghan town of Wesh – opposite the Pakistani town of Chaman. One Taliban fighter, speaking to the camera, said, “after two decades of the cruelty of Americans and their puppets, this gate and the Spin Boldak district have been captured by the Taliban”.
Taliban also reports of opening of Chaman-Spin Boldak check post for cross border transport and trade after negotiations and guarantees with Pakistani officials come to fruition.
Pakistan has opened Chaman border crossing with Afghanistan for pedestrians traffic on humanitarian grounds, Pakistani officials said Thursday. The border was closed Wednesday following clashes between Afghan forces & Taliban fighters in the town of Spin Boldak across the border. pic.twitter.com/PgjjoieNun
— VOA DEEWA (@voadeewa) July 15, 2021
Pakistan’s main trading entry points with Afghanistan are Torkham in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Chaman in Balochistan. These points are also used for Afghan transit cargoes as well. Spin Boldak crossing is one of the key strategic locations in Kandahar province, which is adjacent to Pakistan.
Now while hundreds of export cargo trucks from Afghanistan are stopped at the check post, the Taliban and their allies are freely moving there.
“This is a war against Pak Army & Pak proxies. This is not an Afghan conflict. This is a war with Pak & we have been at war with Pakistan since 1973,” says Afghan journalist Wali Frozan Yousefzai.
Interestingly on Thursday, before leaving for Uzbekistan, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that Pakistan will hold a peace conference on Afghanistan in the coming days. Other than leaders of the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s administration, invitations have been sent to all prominent Afghan leaders including former President Hamid Karzai and chief of Hizb-e-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar.
Meanwhile, prior to the re-start of the much-awaited Intra-Afghan peace talks, the Taliban have demanded the release of its 7,000 prisoners as a condition for a three-month ceasefire.
‘It’s a big demand,” said the spokesperson of Afghan president Ghani who is currently in Tashkent along with Pakistani PM Imran Khan, External affairs Minister of India, S. Jaishankar among 40 other world leaders participating in the conference, “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity. Challenges and Opportunities.” On Thursday, Jaishankar met Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on the side-lines of the conference.
According to Pakistani media, PM Imran Khan will also meet Ghani on Friday, before the Afghan President leaves for Kabul.