Pakistan Army grants refuge, safe passage to 46 Afghan soldiers at Chitral border: ISPR

Published July 26, 2021
An army soldier stands guard along the newly fenced part of the Pak-Afghan border. — AFP/File
An army soldier stands guard along the newly fenced part of the Pak-Afghan border. — AFP/File

Forty-six soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) and Border Police were granted "refuge and safe passage" by the Pakistan Army on Sunday, according to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement.

The statement said that a local ANA commander opposite Arundu, Chitral, had requested help for the 46 soldiers — including five officers — as "they were unable to hold their military posts along [the] Pak-Afghan International Border due to [the] evolving security situation in Afghanistan."

The Pakistan Army contacted Afghan authorities for the relevant information and necessary formalities, the statement added.

"These Afghan soldiers arrived at Arundu sector, Chitral late last night. After contact with Afghan authorities and necessary military procedures, 46 soldiers including five officers have been given refuge [and] safe passage into Pakistan.

"Afghan soldiers have been provided food, shelter and necessary medical care as per established military norms," the ISPR statement said.

It added that the soldiers and officers would be returned to the Afghan government in a "dignified manner after due process".

Mentioning a similar incident, the ISPR statement said 35 Afghan soldiers who had asked for refuge on July 1 had also been "given safe passage into Pakistan and handed over to Afghan govt authorities after due procedure".

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed had previously told Dawn that Pakistan has moved the Frontier Constabulary, Levies Force and other militias from the front line positions along the Pak-Afghan border as the army has started to man those positions.

“Now regular army troops are manning the border after replacing the paramilitary forces,” the minister said, adding the decision had been made in wake of the volatile situation across the border. "The current volatile situation (in Afghanistan) demands that regular military troops be deployed along the border," he had said.

Earlier in July, more than 1,000 Afghan security personnel fled across the border into Tajikistan following Taliban advances in northern Afghanistan. The Taliban had taken over six key districts in the northern province of Badakshan, which borders both Tajikistan and China, following which 1,037 Afghan servicemen fled across the border with Tajikistan's permission.

Insecurity has been growing in Afghanistan in recent weeks as US-led foreign troops complete their withdrawal and the Taliban launch major offensives, taking districts and border crossings.

The Taliban and Afghan government officials met for talks in Qatari capital Doha on July 17. The meeting ended with promises of more talks, as well as greater attention to the protection of civilians and infrastructure.

Meanwhile, fighting between government forces and the Taliban rages on, with the militant group claiming to have taken control of a large majority of the country.

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