least 46 Afghan soldiers, including several officers, have taken refuge in
Pakistani after unable to hold their military posts apparently in the wake of
advances by Taliban inside Afghanistan.
Stepped up Taliban attacks in recent weeks have forced hundreds of Afghan government forces to escape to Tajikistan, Iran, China and Pakistan, enabling the insurgents to seize Afghanistan's strategic border crossings with these neighbors.
The Pakistani military said in a statement Monday "Afghan National Army local Commander opposite Arundu Sector, Chitral requested Pakistan Army for refuge and safe passage for 46 soldiers of Afghan National Army and Border Police, including five officers, as they were unable to hold their military posts along Pak-Afghan International Border due to evolving security situation in Afghanistan."
Earlier press reports said the soldiers were stationed in the eastern Afghan border province of Kunar, the scene of heavy fighting between the Taliban and Afghan government forces.
This is not the first time that such an incident has occurred. Earlier this month, 35 Afghan soldiers had also requested Pakistan for safe passage over their failure to hold their military post along the border.
The Afghan troops have lately come under a lot of pressure from the Taliban. Earlier in July, more than 1,000 Afghan security personnel fled across the border into Tajikistan following the Taliban attacks.
have stepped up attacks against Afghan security forces and captured vast
territory since early May, when the United States and NATO allies officially
began pulling their last remaining troops from Afghanistan.
Amid Taliba offensive, Russia has consented to allow the United States to use its bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan for limited operations in Afghanistan, according to a Russian newspaper report quoted by Eurasianet.
Kommersant daily newspaper on July 17 cited unnamed sources as saying that a proposal on how to utilize those facilities was aired during the June meeting in Geneva between Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Joe Biden.
The arrangement would involve U.S. forces using Russian bases in the two countries for pre-coordinated operations in Afghanistan. Another area for cooperation would be in the exchange of intelligence, including of data collected by drones, Kommersant cited its sources as saying, while noting that Russian bases in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are equipped with close- and mid-range unmanned aerial systems.
"If the Americans are only interested in monitoring the situation in Afghanistan, they would accept this generous proposal. But they have not yet given a clear response, which raises suspicions that they have different ideas in mind," the source told the newspaper.
Media reports about Washington seeking use of a military facility in Central Asia from which its forces could launch operations in Afghanistan have been circulating since mid-April. The Washington Post has cited current and former officials in the Biden administration as saying Uzbekistan was being considered as a jumping-off location for drone operations.
Zalmay Khalilzad, the U.S. special representative for Afghanistan, visited Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in May for talks that will have featured security high on the agenda.
The U.S. once had two important bases in Central Asia, both established in the wake of the terror attacks of September 11, 2001: Karshi-Khanabad, a Soviet-built facility at a location in Uzbekistan around 145 kilometers north of Afghanistan's border, from which they were expelled in 2005, and the Manas air base in Kyrgyzstan, which ceased operations in 2014.
Interestingly, the Taliban is banned in the Russian Federation as a terrorist organization.