First Vice President of Afghanistan, Amrullah Saleh, just revealed that Pakistan’s military warned the Afghan military not to try to eject the Taliban from Spin Boldak, Afghanistan.
Spin Boldak – Contested Space
According to the Vice President, he has a voicemail confirming that Pakistan has openly interfered in the war in Afghanistan to try to protect their proxy force the Taliban from rapid defeat in this key town in Kandahar province. Spin Boldak sits nearly equal distance between the old Taliban regime stronghold of Kandahar and the current Taliban militia headquarters in Quetta Pakistan.
The warning has just begun to get international coverage but the message is clear to Afghans – Pakistan is now openly the air force for the Taliban. Pakistan’s message to the Afghan military pilots that have come within 10KMs of Spin Boldak were warned they would face air-to-air missiles if they moved closer to the town. The Afghan Army and Air Force are currently engaging with Taliban terrorists in Spin Boldak that have recently arrived.
The threat of Pakistan
This unexpected provocation comes at an odd time for Pakistan. The foreign minister of Pakistan, S.M. Qureshi, (whom many Afghans also refer to as the FM of the Taliban) had just invited senior Afghan leaders, including former President Karzai, to Lahore for a peace dialogue. That invitation was quickly rejected following this threat of open warfare and air combat.
The threat by Pakistani pilots to engage Afghan aircraft that are in Afghan air space also came at the same time the Taliban have floated the idea of a three month cease fire. Many Afghans believe that the Taliban and Pakistani government are reacting more erratically due to the heavy casualties being inflicted on the Taliban by the ANDSF.
At this time, no response has been made by either CENTCOM or NATO, whose aircraft are still using Afghan air space to remove their personnel and equipment, and to defend the ANDSF in extreme circumstances.
New Developments Need New Tactics
Another interesting development is the increasing reporting of the number of non-Afghans in the ranks of the Taliban being killed across Afghanistan. These reports note that foreigners beyond Pakistan are being used to fill the Taliban ranks and to fill leadership roles.
This has led to speculation that maybe it is time for Afghanistan’s military to create a regiment or two of pro-Afghan soldiers from outside of Afghanistan to operate as a quick reaction or critical infrastructure security force in support of the ANDSF. Ideas for this type of force, or legion, vary but some have speculated that it would operate under Afghan rules of engagement and report to the Afghan ministers of Defense and Interior based on their missions. The auxiliary forces would be temporary in nature and help to match the use of foreign fighters by Pakistan to fill the Taliban ranks. With over 800,000 Afghan war veterans in the United States alone, Afghanistan would not have much trouble filling their legion with volunteers anxious to finish off the Taliban and their terrorist friends.
One thing is for sure, as the world tries to quickly pull away from Afghanistan, South Asian activities might just be calling them back faster than they like.