Thursday, September 23, 2021

international

Pakistan side of Afghan border is secure: DG ISPR


Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Director General Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar on Friday emphasised that the situation on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border was "normal and under control" while Pakistans side was "secure".

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At the outset of his press conference in Rawalpindi, he said he would talk about the evolving situation in Afghanistan and the implied national security problems that Pakistan could face, along with the measures the armed forces had taken and would continue to take to "ward off any spillover of insecurity and instability into Pakistan".

Prior to the Taliban's takeover of Kabul, the military situation in the war-torn country "unfolded rapidly", he said, adding that Pakistan had already started taking the measures it needed to guard the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and to ensure security.

Pakistan had apprehensions that the situation would unfold in the way that it did and there could be a "spillover", which is why it took the steps it did, he elaborated.

He recalled that Pakistan had started "beefing up" its security since 2014, including Operation Zarb-i-Azb and Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad.

"The political and military leadership in Pakistan had foresight that something like this (Taliban takeover in Afghanistan) could happen. So, despite whatever has happened on that side (Afghanistan), the situation on the Pak-Afghan border is normal and under control."

"This does not mean nothing can happen but we are prepared and won't be caught unaware," he added.

Giving the timeline of events as they unfolded in the neighbouring country, the DG ISPR said prior to August 15 — when the Taliban entered Kabul — several soldiers belonging to the Afghan National Army entered Pakistan on more than two occasions, seeking safe passage because they feared their posts might come under attack by the Taliban.

"They were accepted and given safe passage back under military norms," he added.

Pakistan's armed forces "anticipated the way the situation was going to unfold and the chance of instability" spilling over and moved troops to important border crossings to ensure control, he said.

"Seventeen out of 78 border crossings were notified [for enhanced deployment] and all illegal crossings were closed. After August 15, the terminals and border crossings have been kept open. Convoys are also continuously moving on both sides."

Evacuation efforts

The DG ISPR said the second-biggest site for evacuation of foreigners from Afghanistan, besides the ones in the neighbouring country, was in Pakistan.

So far, 113 flights — both military and commercial — have landed in Pakistan from Afghanistan, he added.

"The situation at the Pak-Afghan border is normal and there is no untoward incident," he said.

'Pakistan second-biggest victim of Afghan conflict'

Talking about the impact of the decades-long war in the neighbouring country, Gen Iftikhar noted the "biggest victims" of the conflict, besides Afghans, had been Pakistanis.

"We have faced a massive brunt since the Soviets invaded [Afghanistan] followed by the civil war. [More than] 86,000 lives have been lost [along with] Rs152 billion in economic losses and counting.

"While we were involved in this war on terror during the last two decades, we have had three major escalations on the eastern border. At the peak of this period, there were more than 90 terrorist incidents taking place in a year in Pakistan."

Published : August 28, 2021