The Afghan-Pakistani border continues to represent one of the most dangerous security hotspots for the Islamabad government since the Afghan Taliban movement came to power. These areas witness security violations from time to time, forcing the authorities in the two countries to take exceptional measures, the least of which is closing the main crossings between the two neighboring countries. The Taliban movement, with its Afghan and Pakistani wings, is the biggest problem in that region, which witnessed a dangerous escalation on the night of Thursday, September 7, with serious repercussions due to the numerical density on the part of the Pakistani Taliban bloc and the backgrounds of the escalation.
The Pakistani government announced that its security forces had repelled a large-scale attack launched by hundreds of Pakistani Taliban fighters on the Afghan-Pakistani border, and government officials indicated that the attack came from the Afghan territories ruled by the Afghan Taliban.
According to AFP, Lower Chitral Deputy Commissioner Muhammad Ali Khan stated that “they were in the hundreds and were armed with light and heavy weapons. We were ready to respond to the attack, and the exchange of fire lasted for about four hours.”
Chitral confirmed that the clashes resulted in the killing of four Pakistani soldiers and nine Pakistani Taliban. He pointed out that the Pakistani forces had been monitoring their movements in the nearby border areas for two or three days, explaining that the information they obtained contributed greatly to repelling the attack.
At the same time, the Pakistani Taliban also announced the control of two of Islamabad’s military sites, saying in a statement circulated through its media outlets that the two sites are located in Bumburet district in Chitral.
The clashes began due to the failure of the Afghan Taliban to agree with the Pakistani government not to set up checkpoints in that area, which was confirmed by Khan in his statements. This led to the objection of the Pakistani side, so the Afghan forces opened fire on the Pakistani side.
Repercussions of the crisis
The clashes led to the closure of the Torkham border crossing between Pakistan and Afghanistan, which is one of the most important border crossings between the two countries. The crossing is considered the main transit point for passengers and goods between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
It is noteworthy that the crossing was closed several times during the past two years, including last February, causing thousands of trucks loaded with goods to stop on both sides of the border for days as a result of security violations.
Dr. Mohamed El-Sayed, a researcher specializing in Asian affairs, said that the crisis will not stop only at the point of closing the main crossing between the two countries, since there is more than one dimension to the repetition of these incidents, as the Islamabad government accuses the Afghan Taliban of harboring members of the Taliban movement and supporting their armed attacks on Pakistani forces across the common border between the two countries. This puts the Afghan Taliban in a constant dilemma that they do not seem to want to get rid of, which is their failure to adhere to what they had pledged before they seized power, namely not providing a safe haven for armed groups on Afghan soil.
He explained that the Taliban failed to do so from day one, as their actions have been completely the opposite, and therefore they do not see the impact of this on the Afghan interior, given the international community’s fears about the movement, which has not yet been recognized internationally.
El-Sayed added that, on the other hand, the Pakistani Taliban movement is looking forward to following the example of its Afghan counterpart, so that one day it can gain control of power in Pakistan, which Islamabad is well aware of, and it is working to completely control the borders between the two countries to prevent contact between the two parties.