What is the condition of Pakistan-Afghanistan border after the withdrawal of Taliban?


 Torkham, the busiest border road between Pakistan and Afghanistan, was replaced by the green and red flags of Afghanistan, now the Islamic Emirate's white flag, and the Afghan Border Security Force is now wearing a shirt, salwar, a white handkerchief and a white handkerchief. Taliban fighters were standing holding guns.

 

Three white double-cabin vehicles stopped near them, from which other armed Taliban descended and took the place of the fighters already standing. After this, the Taliban, who were already guarding there, left from there by sitting in the same vehicles. Perhaps it was time to change the shift of the Taliban stationed on the border at 10 o'clock in the morning.

 

After Taliban guards took their positions, trucks parked in Afghanistan were allowed to enter Pakistan, following which commercial trucks began to arrive.

 

But no one seemed to talk, ask questions or make any requests to the armed Taliban fighters on this side of the border.

 

Fewer than usual people were present on the border, and they were also seen making some distance from the Taliban. There were also some Taliban fighters on the outskirts, who had their faces completely covered with a cloth tied over their heads, only their eyes were visible.

 

A few days ago when we visited Torkham, this border was under the control of Afghan security forces. Afghan soldiers stationed there were angry when Pakistani journalists took their pictures, but no such objection was raised from the Taliban side, but they were constantly ignoring our cameras, and none of them even once Didn't look.


 Taliban are present on Torkham but why not refugees?

Seeing Afghan citizens on social media and TV at Kabul airport desperate to leave the country, we felt that perhaps a similar sight would be seen at Torkham Border. But when we reached there, only a few people were seen waiting to reach Pakistan.

The queue of people coming from Afghanistan to Pakistan was not very long. There were hardly 30 to 40 people, but in spite of this they were waiting standing in the heat for a long time. When we asked the security personnel there the reason for this delay, they said that in view of the current security situation in Afghanistan, we have tightened the investigation of the people coming from there, so that terrorist elements do not enter.


 Why no refugees on the border of Torkham?

This is true whether in the past the attack on the Badhber base of the Pakistan Air Force in the year 2015 or the terrorist attack on the Bacha Khan University in the year 2016. According to Pakistani security officials, the attackers had entered Pakistan through this Torkham border. It was only after that that Pakistan decided to build barbed wire fences, gates and long corridors along the border.

There was a time when this border was divided only by a chain, but today it has a gate several feet high and, in addition to walls and fences, there is also a system of strict checks for movement.

While such measures have made the movement of terrorists difficult, Afghan refugees who have been coming through this route for decades also no longer turn here.

Torkham is the busiest route between Pakistan and Afghanistan, be it the Soviet occupation in 1979, the first Taliban insurgency in 1996 or the US invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Afghan refugees in large numbers sought to save their lives from war and violence. I have turned to Torkham.

But now, that the Taliban have taken over all of Afghanistan and many Afghans are displaced from Kabul airport and the Iranian border, why are there no refugees on Torkham today?


 "Those from whom they are running for their lives, they are standing in front of us on the border"

We were not allowed to talk to the Afghan nationals standing in the queue to come to Pakistan from Afghanistan. Security officials said that they are currently in the border of Afghanistan, so they are not allowed to talk to us.

A few meters away from the border, 56-year-old Ahsan Khan came out with his luggage in a taxi. He was going to Jalalabad. Ahsan says that he used to go to Jalalabad from this border since childhood, but the strictness that has happened on this border was never there before.

“I remember till the year 2015, we used to go to Jalalabad in the morning and return in the evening. There was a time when we used to go by our car, but now it is not possible because now you have to go through a long process of checking. have to pass.

In 2016, the government of Pakistan made passports and visas mandatory for Afghan nationals entering its border through Torkham.

Ahsan believes that all these stringent conditions and the fear of the Taliban standing on the border have forced Afghan refugees to take a different route, this time.

"Those from whom they are running for their lives, they are standing in front of us at the border. Then from where will the poor, uneducated people get passports at such a time?"

The government of Pakistan also says that at a time when 3 million Afghan refugees are already living in the country, at such a time Pakistan cannot bear the burden of more refugees.

On the other hand, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has asked Pakistan to once again open its doors to Afghan refugees.


 Why are Pakistani citizens happy with the arrival of the Afghan Taliban?

Landi Kotal Bazaar is only a few kilometers away from this border. There are a large number of car spare parts shops and dhaba-like restaurants.

Uvaid has been running a small restaurant in this market for many years. Uwaid says that on normal days, most Afghans coming from Torkham stop at this market for food and car service.

He said, "Since Torkham came under Taliban control, the arrival of Afghan civilians has reduced very little, but those who came before were very upset about the Taliban moving to different cities. He used to say that Afghanistan and its people have changed a lot and now it is very difficult for them to live under the strict rules of the Afghan Taliban."


 Uwaid says that he finds it very strange that most of the Afghan citizens who come to his restaurant are not happy with the Taliban, on the contrary, Pakistani citizens are very happy with the arrival of the Afghan Taliban.

Yaqub, a shopkeeper who stood by Uwaid, said he was happy with the arrival of the Taliban because he was fed up with the mistreatment of Pakistanis by Afghan security personnel.

"We are happy that at least now we won't be treated badly at the border. We don't care who's government, we just want to avoid having to cross the border every day."

But Yaqub is not the only one who is happy that the Taliban have taken control of the border. Zia Sarhadi, a senior official of Afghan transit trade at the Pakistan Chamber of Commerce, says that one of the reasons for the satisfaction and happiness of Pakistani traders is that the border tax collected by the Taliban was taken over by Ashraf Ghani's government. Much less than the outgoing tax.

But Majnoon, who brought a truckload of tomatoes from Afghanistan to Pakistan, told us that he had never felt so afraid to cross the border before today.

They say that "we are afraid that we do not know when someone will feel bad about something and we lose our life."