An Afghan government negotiator said Thursday that the Taliban had offered a three-month ceasefire in exchange for the release of 7,000 insurgent prisoners, as the militant group continues an offensive across the country.
“This is an important demand,” Nader Nadery said, adding that the insurgents have also demanded the removal of the Taliban leadership from a United Nations blacklist.
The announcement came as Pakistani guards on Thursday used tear gas to disperse hundreds of people trying to cross a border crossing into Afghanistan, officials said.
The border was closed a day earlier by Pakistan after the Taliban seized the Afghan side in Spin Boldak district, continuing the considerable gains made by militants since foreign forces stepped up their withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“An unruly crowd of around 400 tried to force their way through the door. They threw stones, which forced us to use tear gas, ”said a security official at the southwest border of Chaman, on the Pakistani side, who asked to remain anonymous.
He said about 1,500 people had gathered at the border, waiting to cross since Wednesday.
“We had to blame because people were getting unruly,” said a second border official, who also declined to be named.
Jumadad Khan, a senior government official in Chaman, said the situation was now “under control”.
An Afghan Taliban source told AFP that hundreds of people had also gathered on the Afghan side, hoping to enter Pakistan.
“We are discussing with the Pakistani authorities. A formal meeting to open the border is scheduled today and hopefully it will open in a day or two, ”he said.
The terminal offers direct access to Pakistan’s Balochistan province – where senior Taliban leaders have been based for decades – as well as an unknown number of reserve fighters who regularly enter Afghanistan to bolster their ranks.
A major highway from the border connects Pakistan’s commercial capital, Karachi, and its sprawling Arabian Sea port, which is considered a mainstay of the billion dollar Afghan heroin trade that has provided a source crucial revenue for the Taliban war chest over the years. .
Spin Boldak was the latest in a string of border posts and dry ports seized by insurgents in recent weeks as they seek to stifle much-needed income in Kabul while filling their own coffers.
The Afghan Interior Ministry denied that the Taliban had taken over the area even as social media was inundated with photos of insurgent fighters relaxing in the border town.
Hours after the crossing point fell, an AFP reporter on the Pakistani side saw around 150 Taliban fighters on motorcycles, waving insurgent flags and demanding permission to enter Afghanistan.
© 2021 AFP