A day after Afghanistan accused Islamabad of providing “close air support" to the Taliban, a picture surfaced on Sunday of a Pakistan Paramilitary personnel standing guard at the Spin Boldak border where the Afghan army is at war with insurgents.
Afghanistan’s Vice President Amrullah Saleh on Saturday tweeted that Pakistan’s air force has issued “official warning" to Kabul that any “move to dislodge Taliban" from its borders will be “faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force".
The latest round of accusations came two days after Taliban insurgents claimed that they have seized control of the Spin Boldak crossing area between Afghanistan and Pakistan territory.
“Pakistan air force has issued official warning to the Afghan Army and Air Force that any move to dislodge the Taliban from Spin Boldak area will be faced and repelled by the Pakistan Air Force. Pak air force is now providing close air support to Taliban in certain areas," Saleh tweeted.
He further said that if anyone doubts his claim, he is ready to share evidence. “If anyone doubts my tweet on Pak Air Force & Pak Army warning to d Afg side not to retake Spin Boldak I am ready to share evidence through DM. Afghan aircrafts as far as 10 kilometers frm Spin Boldak R warned 2 back off or face air to air missiles. Afg is too big to be swallowed (sic)," the country’s vice president wrote.
In response, Pakistan issued a statement saying 40 Afghan soldiers slipped across the border to Pakistan during the Taliban takeover of the crossing earlier this week.
Taliban fighters in Afghanistan had said on Wednesday they had taken control of one of the main border crossings with Pakistan, perhaps the most strategic objective they have captured so far in a rapid advance across the country as US forces pull out.
The Taliban recently reportedly raised their flag above the Spin Boldak crossing and claimed it is now under their control.
Videos shared on social media show the white flag fluttering above the Spin Boldak crossing near Kandahar.
The Taliban have overrun dozens of districts in Afghanistan since the start of the final phase of the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO troops, after a 20-year military presence. The U.S. says its withdrawal is 95 per cent complete.
The fighting at Spin Boldak was confirmed by Fawad Aman, Afghanistan’s deputy defense ministry spokesman. The Associated Press also obtained footage of fighters, apparently Taliban, receiving treatment in a hospital in the Pakistani border town of Chaman.
Relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan are fraught with suspicion. Afghanistan routinely accuses Pakistan of giving safe haven to Afghan Taliban, whose leadership is headquartered in Pakistan’s southwestern Baluchistan provincial capital of Quetta.
The Chaman border crossing opposite Spin Boldak is also in Baluchistan province. Afghanistan and the United States have criticised Pakistan in the past for allowing Taliban fighters to cross into Pakistan to receive medical treatment. Nearly 2 million Afghan refugees live in Pakistan, having fled decades of war in their homeland.
Pakistan has used its influence over the Taliban to press the religious movement into talks with the U.S. and the Afghan government.