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Young Taliban fighters, wearing sloppy high-top sneakers and white headbands with Quranic verses, patrolled the mountainous Khyber Pass and the dusty Tolkham border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Armed personnel armed with rifles and whips jumped out of the dilapidated pickup truck decorated with garlands of plastic fuchsia and yellow flowers, pushing those who were trying to cross the border back into the queue and away from the gate they begged to enter.
From the day the Taliban arrived at 9 am in early August and took over the border post, the Taliban’s white flag marked the Afghan side of the strategic border crossing. Pakistani officials paved the way for Kabul’s bloodless collapse, saying that Afghan soldiers had retreated without a fight.
But the relative calmness of the border crossing overshadows Islamabad’s concerns that the takeover of the Taliban will trigger a large number of refugees and encourage extremist groups in the region, including those targeting Pakistan.
Pakistani Military Brigadier General Sajid Majeed said: “I am worried that there, the security situation is temporary.” “We have strengthened and taken additional reinforcement measures.”
The UN warned that Afghanistan faces “Imminent humanitarian disaster“It is estimated that 500,000 Afghans may have fled the country this year. During the US-Afghan war, Pakistan accepted hundreds of thousands of refugees and requested international financial assistance to accommodate more refugees.
Analysts say that Pakistan has almost completed the construction of a metal fence along its once unregulated 2,600-kilometer border with Afghanistan, which reflects the tensions between Islamabad and the Taliban.
Since coming to power, the Taliban has refused to condemn the Pakistani Taliban organization or Pakistani Taliban, Claimed that there had been a suicide attack by four soldiers in Quetta this week and rejected the fence that separated the two countries along the disputed Durand line drawn by British colonists.
Pakistan, which has been accused by the United States and other countries of funding and supporting the Taliban, has repeatedly insisted that its influence on the Islamic movement is limited.
In a news visit organized by Islamabad for foreign journalists, including a visit to Tolkam, Pakistani officials claimed that they were excluded from the withdrawal agreement between the United States and the Taliban. They said that direct negotiations between the United States and the Taliban have weakened their influence.
“We are facing a huge challenge,” said a senior Pakistani military official who asked not to be named. “them [the Taliban] As far as TTP is concerned, no statement has yet been issued. TTP is a major issue. “
The official added that Isis-K, A divided group Al Qaeda, which has grown into a rival to the Taliban, “is not a united force” with fewer than 2,000 fighters, but “if you ignore them, many people will join.”
Instead of condemning TTP, the Taliban released hundreds of prisoners of the organization from Afghan prisons because they Sweep the country.
TTP leader Noor Wali Mehsud, who was included on the United Nations sanctions list for cooperating with Al Qaeda, vowed to attack Pakistan, and security analysts said that TTP attacks have reached the highest level in four years.
Asfandyar Mir, a researcher at Stanford University, said that Pakistan’s strategy to support the rise of the Taliban in Kabul is a gamble. “Pakistan believes it can weaken the synergy between the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban and independently manage the two relations,” Mir said.
“We should not deny the possibility that Pakistan can manage this embarrassing dance, but it is more likely that there will be a backlash. The Taliban will fight back against Pakistan, and violence will [rise]. “
The desperate desire for refugees fleeing the Taliban and the economic slowdown are another complex issue facing Pakistan.
“Government workers and teachers, they can’t get paid, they have no choice but to flee to Pakistan,” said Abdul Said, a security researcher with Afghanistan and Pakistan militant groups based in Sweden.
“If the situation in Afghanistan is still like the Taliban era before 9/11, there is no trade and the country is cut off, people will flee.”
In Tolkam, Pakistan rejected refugees on the grounds of lack of documentation and epidemic restrictions, forcing some to drive 800 kilometers southwest to reach the Chaman-Spin Boldak border crossing.
Bibi Aisha Nooristani, a 27-year-old nurse who worked for a Western aid organization, fled Kabul after four Taliban fighters interrogated her at home.
“Torkam Gate is closed. We went there, and then took the bus back to Spinboldak,” she said. “It’s too dangerous for me to stay in Kabul.”
Nooristani and a few refugees stand outside the UN office in a quiet suburb of Islamabad. Baraat Ali was also a member of the gang, who fled from Kabul with his family, where he ran a truck business contracted with NATO forces.
“I am particularly scared because my truck was once rented for NATO business and there are rumors that the Taliban will steal our daughter,” Ali said. “No one can predict the future.”
Additional reporting by Farhan Bokhari