As the Taliban march relentlessly in the country, engaging in military offensive and occupying key provinces, the brunt of their aggression falls upon the people. As thousands stand stranded and displaced at the crossroads of the Pakistan Afghan border at Chaman, the havoc is intensified triggered by the unprecedented refugee crisis.
The prospects are grim and bloody as the Foreign Minister of Pakistan Shah Mahmood Qureshi and National Security Adviser, Dr. Moeed Yusuf has warned of the potential instability in Afghanistan and its spill-over impact on Pakistan.
Taliban signed chits as permits
The Vice President of Kabul, Am Amrullah Saleh has indicted Pakistani authorities of allowing the personnel from Afghan National Defence and Security forces with permits signed by the Taliban to cross the border near the Chaman border.
Read more: What’s next for Afghanistan after US exit?
He said on Thursday that Taliban terrorists issued signed visas to members of the Afghan security forces who surrendered to the Islamist outfit before entering Pakistan. He accused Pakistan for being the spoiler in the peace settlement and is concerned with its own strategic depth policy at the expense of regional peace.
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
Nonetheless, the Foreign office today, have rejected these allegations and have reiterated Pakistan’s stand committed to lasting peace in Afghanistan and will continue its endeavours irrespective of the detractors. It reiterated the FO narrative by claiming,
“We acknowledge Afghan Government’s right to undertake actions on its sovereign territory. However, as alleged by the Afghan Vice President, Pakistan Air Force never communicated anything to the Afghan Air Force. Such statements undermine Pakistan’s sincere efforts to play its part in an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led solution.
— Urdu News (@UrduNewsCom) July 15, 2021
“Pakistan lately rescued 40 ANDSF all ranks who fled to Pakistan and returned them to GIORA with respect and dignity, with a declared offer to ANDSF to provide all logistical support as requested”
Refugee influx; taking a leaf out of history
In the detailed briefing at the Senate Foreign affairs, both of them had highlighted the severe challenges faced by Pakistan in the past in the shape of militancy and refugee bulge. As the Taliban aggressively make inroads to the north and south of Kabul, the Afghan National Army has failed to put up significant resistance.
As a result, the return of the refugee crisis can be gauged with the fact that hundreds of people – including women and children stand deserted at the Spin Boldak-Chaman border crossing after the Taliban took control of the town of Wesh in Kandahar province on Wednesday, 15th July.
Having faced this situation before and suffered the repercussions of faulty decisions to host Afghan refugees with open arms, Pakistan needs to take prudent and timely decisions to overcome the volatile situation across the border.
Given the fact that Pakistan is already battling multiple issues such as economic crisis due to the pandemic outbreak and burgeoning balance of payment crisis that landed the country into the IMF bailout conditionality after procuring the loan and security concerns, hosting refugees might be the last thing the country could even think about.
“Iranian model” of hosting refugees
Even though Pakistan has played a proactive role in pushing the Taliban towards a negotiated peace settlement, the situation on the ground has generated its momentum towards the conflict. Therefore, Pakistan is pitching to minimize the toxic fallout from civil war brimming in Afghanistan and ensuring policy measures in the wake of the refugee crisis as dislocated people head towards the borders.
Many including the Interior Minister, Sheikh Rasheed, are considering the Iranian model of restricting the refugees and not allowing them to blend with the local population. Thus, the government of Pakistan needs to take this decision timely and notify the international community in clear terms that despite all its best intentions, it cannot bear the load of the large influx of refugees.
Furthermore, the National Security adviser warned that the influx of refugees may bring back militancy and terrorism in Pakistan as terrorist outfits may infiltrate alongside refugees. And it will be difficult for the border authorities to differentiate between them.
As the Taliban has stated that they will not allow the Afghan soil as a launching pad for terrorism and a haven for terrorist outfits, Pakistan needs to drive this point ahead with greater emphasis. It can do so by strengthening the counter-terrorism and law-enforcement capabilities to tackle this reintroduced threat brimming upon borders.