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Fault lines in Pakistan-Taliban relationship emerge over Durand Line

ANI | Updated: Jun 27, 2022 10:50 IST


Islamabad [Pakistan], June 27 (ANI): The refusal to accept the status of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan (Durand Line) by the Taliban regime has clearly shown the cracks in their relationship.
Pakistan is considered to be the mentor of the Taliban, however, the student (Taliban) is not behaving as per the wishes of his master (Pakistan).
Georgia Leatherdale-Gilholy, an associate writer for Foundation for Uyghur Freedom and a Young Voices contributor, writing in The National Interest said that the Durand Line remains a thorn in Pakistan's side.
Gilholy is also of the view that the tensions between the Taliban-led Afghan state and Pakistan is potentially set to spiral over the coming weeks and months.
Islamabad was partly optimistic in the wake of the Taliban takeover. It hoped that the Taliban regime would accept the Durand Line's legitimacy and leverage its links with the proscribed organization Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to broker a peace agreement.
While Taliban links have facilitated Islamabad-TTP talks, which led to a ceasefire, the Taliban seems reluctant to apply total pressure on the TTP. The Taliban is also in no mood to grant any concessions on the issue, given that skirmishes between themselves and Pakistani troops continue, reported The National Interest.
Perceived as a divisive colonial element intended to divide the larger Pashtun community, the Durand Line is an emotive issue for many Afghans.
While the Pashtun-dominated Taliban regime has yet to announce territorial expansionary designs, many of its leaders make no secret of their desire for the free flow of people, trade, and cultural exchanges across the Pashtun belt.
The region is also home to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). These Wahhabi fundamentalists have pledged allegiance to the Taliban but maintain a separate structure. They also want the restoration of the special status of Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and its de-merger with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, not to mention the release of their detained cadres.

Moreover, the refusal to accept the status of the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan is not unique to the Taliban regime.
Previous Afghan governments have argued that the Durand Line's legitimacy expired in 1993, as the validity of the agreement, inked on November 12, 1893, was for 100 years.
However, the weakness of recent Afghan governments allowed Pakistan the leeway to construct a fence along the Durand Line, but that does not mean this status quo is set in stone.
Islamabad, disregarding Taliban sentiments on the issue of the Durand Line, has repeatedly asked the Taliban regime to act against the TPP elements currently launching attacks inside Pakistan from Afghan soil.
At the same time, Pakistani forces have insisted on completing the fencing work along the border. Indeed, just as winter set in last December, the temperature began rising along the Durand Line, with Afghanistan and Pakistan once again locking horns.
Pakistani forces reportedly carried out several cross-border violations, including artillery shelling, heavy and light weapons firing, and transgressions in Afghan airspace via reconnaissance aircraft and drones, reported The National Interest.
Reactions to Pakistan's airstrikes and artillery attacks were strong, with Afghan mainstream and social media demanding the expulsion of the Pakistani envoy in Kabul, and the closure of the border with its eastern neighbour.
The Taliban's spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, also warned Islamabad "not to test the patience of Afghans on such issues and not repeat the same mistake again, otherwise, it would have undesired consequences."
Meanwhile, Pakistan's Army chief, Gen Qamar Bajwa, previously complained that "the Taliban and TTP were two faces of the same coin."
As per Gilholy, the Taliban is unlikely to back down from its position on the Durand Line and will continue to obstruct any attempt to complete the fence.
The ceasefire between the TTP and Islamabad is unlikely to be long-lasting, and a permanent peace agreement is a fairly distant possibility, added Gilholy. (ANI)

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