Kabul: Amid rising tensions between the Taliban and Tajikistan, Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan spoke on the phone with Tajik President Emomali Rahmon in an effort to ease the situation. The development comes amid reports that the Taliban have deployed thousands of suicide bombers in Badakshan province on the border with Tajikistan.
The phone call on Saturday came amid reports that Tajik forces have held parades in regions bordering Afghanistan in a show of strength, while the Taliban have sent thousands of fighters to the Tajikistan border.
Tajikistan has taken a tough line on the Taliban regime and has been critical of human rights violations committed by it, particularly in northeastern Panjshir province.
Ethnic Tajiks make up the second-biggest ethnicity in Afghanistan, comprising nearly 27 per cent of Afghanistan’s population and the country shares more than 1,400 km of border with Afghanistan.
Last week, the Taliban’s second Deputy Prime Minister Abdul Salaam Hanafi warned Tajikistan to stop interfering in Afghanistan’s affairs.
He made the remarks in reaction to Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s speech at the UN General Assembly, where he expressed concern over the formation of the Taliban government and said that a government in Afghanistan in which the interests of all Afghan factions were not secured might generate problems.
Hanafi said in a TV interview last week: “We will not allow any neighbouring nation to interfere in the internal matters of Afghanistan.”
President Rahmon had earlier stressed the formation of an inclusive government in Afghanistan. Taliban senior leader and First Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar had termed the remarks by Rahmon as interference in Afghanistan’s affairs.
The former Soviet republic has been on high alert since the news report on September 22 that the Taliban have deployed a new branch of the so-called the Lashkar-e Mansouri Martyrdom Battalion in Badakhshan Province to counter “possible threats” to Afghanistan’s new Taliban rulers.
Russia has also urged Tajikistan and the Taliban to avoid confrontation on the Afghan-Tajik border
Russia’s Foreign Ministry issued the call for calm on Thursday after the Taliban accused Tajikistan of interference, and a Taliban government spokesman tweeted that “thousands” of its fighters were deployed near the Tajik border to address security threats.
The Taliban later denied the spokesman’s tweet.
Alexei Zaytsev, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s deputy spokesman, said Moscow is “watching with concern the growing tension in Tajik-Afghan relations amid mutually harsh statements by the two countries’ leaders.”
“We call on Dushanbe and Kabul to search for mutually acceptable solutions to the current situation,” Zaytsev said.