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Taliban-Pakistan honeymoon ends as border dispute over Durand Line becomes official

Durand Line (courtsey : ANI)

While Pakistan has been trying to downplay the rising tensions along the Durand Line, the Taliban regime made it clear that they do not accept the British-era alignment as the international border. That ties between the two were in free-fall burst into the public domain when the spokesperson of the defence ministry of the Taliban said that “Pakistan has no right to erect barbed wire along the Durand Line and separate the tribes on both sides of the line.”

The spokesperson shared the video of his statement in Pashto.

Watch Video: Taliban officially rejects Durand Line as Afghan Pakistan Border

The ministry spokesperson Inamullah Samangani further stated that the Taliban will continue to prevent Pakistan from doing that. Interestingly, last week, Samangani had said that Afghan and Pakistan officials are trying to solve all the problems via negotiations and to prevent the chance of another dispute or conflict. Pakistani Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid also said that the issue was solved and further fencing along the border will continue with the consultation with the Taliban leaders.

“Fence is a reality. Nearly 90 percent of it has been installed. Not agreeing with it is not an option,” Rashid had asserted.

This is the first time when the Taliban regime officially stated that they would not allow the Pakistani army to construct fencing on the disputed border. According to the defence ministry of the regime headed by Mullah Yaqoob, the son of the founder of the Taliban, their fighters have been deployed along the Durand Line.

“We are ready to retaliate, if they (Pakistani army) fire at us,” says one Taliban commander in a video in which the Taliban are seen using trucks to demolish the fencing and Pakistani check posts.

Watch Video: Taliban bulldozing fencing put up by Pak Army

“It was the 26th of Qaws (Afghan calendar), the Mujahedeen went for them. The coward Pakistani militia fled. We have brought back all the equipment from them," Tolo news quoted one Taliban senior official as saying.

“It seems that Pakistan has tried to defuse the situation by agreeing to a consensual approach to fencing. This is a big mistake and grants a veto to Afghanistan on what Pakistan can do on its own soil,” says Ejaz Haider, a Pakistani expert adding that the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) and the Durand Line should be the top priority for Imran Khan and Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.

According to Pakistani sources, the Taliban are being supported by militants of the TTP on fencing removing efforts and tensions between the Taliban & Pakistani military continue to be very high at the Durand border following recent incidents of Taliban removing border fencing from different locations in four provinces of Afghanistan– Nangarhar, Kunar, Helmand and Nimruz.

Despite close ties with Pakistan, the border issue remains a contentious issue for the Taliban. Since coming to power in August, the new Taliban regime has been objecting to Pakistan fencing its 2,600-km border that it shares with Afghanistan and had clearly said that it does not recognise the Durand Line. In response, Pakistan threatened to stop transit of Afghans across the Durand Line if the Taliban government objected to the fencing along the disputed border. In a recent meeting with the Taliban leaders, Pakistan told them that the Durand Line is the valid international border.

Also Read: No end to border spats between Taliban and Pakistan along the Durand Line