Pakistan envoy warns of danger in militias fighting Afghan Taliban
Pakistan's envoy to Kabul called on the international community Saturday to help strengthen Afghanistan's security forces, warning that deploying militiamen to fight the Taliban could worsen the situation in the violence-wracked country.
The Taliban have launched a blistering offensive across Afghanistan since early May, capturing a vast swath of the country as US forces leave the country after 20 years.
With the insurgents claiming to control 85 percent of the country, several warlords have started mobilising fighters to defend their territory and back government forces against the Taliban.
But Pakistan's ambassador to Kabul, Mansoor Ahmad Khan, warned that this could make things worse.
"If things translate into some kind of warfare between militias and Taliban, it will be dangerous," Khan said in an interview with AFP.
"Therefore, it is important that Afghan government's capacity to defend these attacks and these security challenges is strengthened."
On Friday, veteran warlord Ismail Khan - whose forces helped topple the Taliban in 2001 - vowed to back government forces fighting against the insurgents.
Pakistan's envoy Khan said more international cooperation was needed in support of President Ashraf Ghani's government, which he said was a "legitimate government at the moment in Afghanistan".
"Therefore all the countries, the international community, have to extend all possible support to Afghanistan in dealing with the security challenges," Khan said.
He also expressed concern that a worsening situation in Afghanistan could trigger a fresh wave of refugees crossing into Pakistan.
"If the situation continues to worsen and deteriorate in Afghanistan... there can be an influx of refugees because of very close cross-border cultural contexts and religious context existing between our two societies," he said.
"Our first effort or first focus is to avoid things going into that direction," he said, insisting that a political solution was the only way to resolve the conflict in Afghanistan.
"If there is an inclusive, broad-based and comprehensive political settlement, it will be in the interest of not only Afghanistan but all of Afghanistan's neighbours."
Afghan officials have regularly blamed Pakistan for backing the Taliban for decades.
The hardline Islamist movement originated among young Afghans who studied in madrasas in Pakistan after fleeing Afghanistan during the 1979-89 Soviet occupation.
Pakistan was one of only four countries to recognise the legitimacy of the first Taliban government between 1996 to 2001 - the others being Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan and the UAE.