Islamabad: Pakistan has deployed army troops on the front line position on its border with Afghanistan as the threat of violence and a fresh influx of refugees loom in the neighbouring country.
The army troops have replaced the paramilitary force including Frontier Constabulary, (FC), Levies Force, Rangers and other forces on the front line positions and for patrolling along the Pak-Afghan border, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed told local media.
“Now regular army troops are manning the border after replacing the paramilitary forces,” the minister said. The decision had been taken to deal with the current volatile situation across the border, he said. The paramilitary troops would, however, continue to deal with issues including illegal border crossing and smuggling.
The development came as the US top general admitted that the Taliban now control about half of Afghanistan’s district centres and have gained “strategic momentum”. Taliban spokesperson said they now control over 90 per cent of Afghanistan’s borders in a claim denied by the Afghan government.
Pakistan, a country that shares the longest border with war-torn Afghanistan, faces two immediate threats – terrorism and influx of refugees.
Pakistan’s national security adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf expressed fears that “members of banned terror outfits like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) might enter Pakistan from Afghanistan in the guise of refugees” in which case the country may witness an uptick in terror attacks.
Chaman border in Balochistan and Torkham in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa are two key border crossings between Pakistan and Afghanistan besides several small trading points.
About 90 per cent of the 2,640km border with Afghanistan has been fenced by Pakistan Army and security posts established for effective border management, according to military spokesperson Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar. He recently said that troops were manning the border to prevent escalation of conflict from the Afghan side into Pakistan.
Pakistan, which hosts almost 3 million Afghan refugees since 1979, says it is not in a position to accept more Afghan refugees this time. “Pakistan is the only country, which, despite its limited resources, is hosting three million Afghan refugees for decades. However, it cannot afford to welcome more refugees if the situation in Afghanistan deteriorates again,” and also because of the threat of terrorism, said Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi. In a worst-case scenario, Pakistan plans to settle the refugees in camps along the border with Afghanistan and away from cities.