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Taliban minister warns Pakistan of 1971-like partition

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KABUL – Taliban’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sher Mohammad Abbas Stanikzai has issued a warning to Pakistan reminiscent of the 1971 partition that led to the creation of Bangladesh. Stanikzai’s recent thorny remarks highlight escalating tensions between the Taliban and its former ally.

The warning comes amidst criticism from the Taliban regarding Pakistan’s treatment of Afghan refugees and its stance on the Durand Line, the border separating Pakistan and Afghanistan. Stanikzai denounced Pakistan’s deportation of Afghan refugees, emphasizing the Pashtuns’ rejection of the Durand Line, which divides their communities.

“We have never recognized Durand and will never recognize it,” Stanikzai stated at a public meeting on February 16. He underscored the discontent among Afghans living on both sides of the border and warned of potential consequences akin to the 1971 separation of Bangladesh from Pakistan.

Pakistan’s response to the Taliban’s assertions has been firm, with its special envoy to Afghanistan, Asif Durrani, vehemently rejecting the Taliban’s stance on the Durand Line. Pakistan has long upheld the legitimacy of the Durand Line based on international law and historical agreements.

However, the Taliban’s shifting dynamics and territorial ambitions pose a significant challenge to Pakistan’s stability. The movement of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) bases to Afghanistan following the Taliban’s resurgence in 2019 has raised concerns about cross-border militancy and security threats.

Moreover, internal strife and economic woes have compounded Pakistan’s challenges, with a surge in terrorist attacks claiming hundreds of lives in 2023 alone. The deteriorating security situation, coupled with growing social discontent, underscores the precarious position Pakistan finds itself in.

As tensions between the Taliban and Pakistan escalate, the specter of a 1971-like partition looms large, raising questions about Pakistan’s ability to navigate these turbulent times. The evolving dynamics in the region suggest a delicate balancing act for Pakistan as it grapples with both internal and external challenges.

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