In what could be their most crucial strategic achievement in nationwide offensive so far, the Taliban have seized the Friendship Gate, a major crossing at the Pak-Afghan border, in an attack on Tuesday night. The Afghan forces guarding the crossing were vastly overpowered and surrendered to the relentless Taliban troops. The Taliban have raised their flag on the Afghan side of the border.
According to reports, the Taliban attacked the Spin Baldok in Afghanistan and attacked several posts of the Afghan troops who reportedly surrendered immediately. With four Afghan soldiers killed, the Taliban took control of the city and the Afghan side of the Friendship Gate – a major trade crossing connecting Chaman and Spin Baldok – and raised their flag. Photos on social media show the Taliban sitting in the offices of the border crossing with stacks of banknotes they reportedly collected from the customs.
The Afghan authorities claim that the advancing Taliban troops were repelled by the Afghan forces stationed at the border. Pakistani authorities say that they have sealed the crossing on the Pakistani side of the border after heavy fighting on the other side.
Contradicting the Afghan government’s account of the events, the Taliban claim that they now control the Spin Baldok-Chaman crossing. They said that they faced little resistance from the Afghan forces who immediately surrendered to the advancing Taliban forces. The raised Taliban flag and the photos on social media corroborate their claims.
Seizing the border crossing is a crucial strategic win for the Taliban – it is the second busiest entry point in Afghanistan. The crossing serves as a conduit for almost all the trade between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Control over the crossing can be a lucrative source of income for the Taliban who have also seized the crossings into Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Iran.
The seizure of the crossing also gives Taliban access to Balochistan which many Taliban have used as their base of operations. The Taliban are known to frequently travel through Balochistan for medical treatment and recruiting soldiers. This week, pro-Taliban rallies were also held in Quetta and Peshawar.