KABUL: Shah Mahmood Qureishi, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister has stated that Pakistan would close its borders with Afghanistan if the Taliban take over the Afghan government after international forces completed withdrawal from the country.
He claimed that Pakistan has already accepted 3.5 million refugees who fled Taliban war with Afghan forces. However, he stated that “we can’t take more.”
“We will have to shut our border; we have to safeguard our national interest,” he said.
This comes a day after Imran Khan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister, told reporters of similar plans stating, “What if [the] Taliban try to take over Afghanistan through [the] military? Then we will seal the border because now we can because we have fenced our border, which was previously [open] because Pakistan does not want to get into, number one, conflict. Secondly, we do not want another influx of refugees.”
Khan expressed his opposition to US withdrawal from Afghanistan, saying that the move caused Pakistan to lose its leverage over the Taliban.
According to him, “… the reason is that the moment the United States gave a date of exit, Taliban basically claimed victory. They’re thinking that they won the war. And so, therefore, our ability to influence them diminishes the stronger they feel.”
Afghan-Pakistani border, the Durand Line, has always been a point of dissent between the two countries. With Afghans claiming “no sanctity” of the line, a potential sealing of the border could be problematic in the future despite who would run the Afghan authority.