Taliban Members, Pakistani Military Personnel Again Engage In Fierce Gunbattle In Kandahar

The latest: The animosity between “brotherly” nations of Afghanistan and Pakistan doesn’t seem to die down easily as the Taliban members have again been involved in a fierce gunbattle with the Pakistani military personnel in Kandahar just three days after a similar incident there.

Go deeper:

  • Well, the Spin Boldak district seems to be the hotspot for clashes recently as on Wednesday morning at around 11:30am, Taliban members started setting up checkpoint facilities in the Shiro Oba area of the district in Kandahar.
  • The Pakistani military personnel then asked them to stop this, however, they were met with resistance from the Taliban side, sources said.
  • Sources from ground zero added, “Taliban have fired three mortars towards Pakistan so far. Pakistani security guards have also fired three mortars. The clash has intensified and people are fleeing from the area.”
  • The number of possible casualties has not been reported so far.
  • Both Taliban and Pakistan have not commented on the issue yet. This skirmish comes just three days after another deadly clash between the two warring factions on Sunday in the same Kandahar province.

Back story: At least seven people had been killed and over 30 others had been injured after deadly border clashes between Afghanistan and Pakistan on the southwestern border town of Chaman, adjacent to the Afghan province of Kandahar, on December 11.

  • Responding to the attacks, Pakistan condemned the “unprovoked and indiscriminate firing” and said that “such unfortunate incidents are not in keeping with the brotherly ties between the two countries”.
  • The attack killed six Pakistani civilians and injured 17 others. On Afghanistan’s side, one Taliban fighter was killed and 10 were wounded.
  • The Pakistani military statement said that Taliban border security forces had “opened unprovoked and indiscriminate fire of heavy weapons, including artillery/mortars” against Pakistani civilian areas.
  • Even, Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif asked Taliban to guarantee that the border incident will not be repeated. Sharif has called the incident unfortunate.
  • Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif had addressed the country’s Parliament and said that the Taliban were the main cause behind the firefight. He said that the Taliban, accepting their fault, apologised to Pakistan, and promised to prevent such incidents in the future.

Why it matters? The Afghan-Pakistan border is called the Durand Line, where Spin Boldak is on the Afghan side while Chaman is on the Pakistani side. After the last incident on Sunday, the Spin Boldak crossing in Kandahar had closed and it reopened on Monday. The Chaman/ Spin Boldak border crossing is referred to as the ‘Friendship Gate’ and both the Taliban and Pakistan have often tabled complaints of alleged encroachment.

  • Such clashes between the Taliban army and the Pakistan military have now become a recurring incident.
  • As tensions along international borders remain intact, both sides traded barbs in November too. One Pakistani soldier was killed and two others were wounded in an exchange of fire at Chaman border crossing which prompted authorities to seal the key border crossing for more than a week.

Zoom out: Of late relations between Taliban and Pakistan have been hitting roadblocks one after another. Taliban used to also hold talks between the Pakistan Taliban and Pakistani government in order to facilitate peace, however, the ceasefire forged too has been disturbed. Islamabad also has said that Taliban rulers are sheltering fighters from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) armed group, which carries out deadly attacks on its soil.

  • Trade also had been affected due to cross-border skirmishes between both the countries due to frequent commercial blockages and many people too have been left stranded who intend to cross the border between the two countries.
  • The current spate of violence on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border also proves that the recent visit by Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar to Kabul to meet with her Taliban counterpart Amir Khan Muttaqi may not have yielded desired results.
  • Overall, even though Pakistan had not recognised the Taliban government officially, it had been one of the supportive governments of the regime ever since it seized power in August 2021. However, now things look like they are standing on rocky grounds as the number of cross-border clashes and terrorists attacks are increasing on a daily basis between the two “brotherly nations”.
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