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Former Pakistan leader warns of more violence amid Taliban offensive

US soldiers load onto a Chinook helicopter to head out on a mission. [Reuters]

Former Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari has warned that the country Pakistan could face a dangerous situation emerging in Afghanistan because of the ongoing Taliban offensive.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) co-chairperson Zardari called on Islamabad to “keep an eye” on the situation in Afghanistan and deliberate on the matter.

He urged relevant authorities to monitor the situation in the neighbouring country and take decisions accordingly.

Pakistan, which shares over a 2,600 kilometres long border with Afghanistan, far that intensification of violence in the war-torn country can have a spillover effect pushing refugees into Pakistan.

In recent days, concerns have been raised over a security vacuum in Afghanistan amid the US pullout.

Pakistan’s foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi said violence and lawlessness could reign in Afghanistan after the United States’ withdrawal and that Pakistan would shut its border to the country if the Taliban takes control of it.

Shah Mahmood Qureshi said Pakistan has already taken in 3.5 million Afghan refugees over the years, but would not accept any more. He was speaking in a weekly media briefing held in the central city of Multan.

“We can’t take more, we will have to shut our border, we have to safeguard our national interest,” he said, adding that Pakistan will continue its diplomatic efforts for peace in the country, and welcome its democratically elected leadership.

In a recent opinion piece for The Washington Post, Prime Minister Imran Khan pointed out that if there was a further civil war in Afghanistan instead of a political settlement, the number of refugees in Pakistan would increase thereby “further impoverishing the frontier areas on our border”.

These fears are further fuelled by rising violence in the war-torn country in the wake of the US drawdown.

Since early May, the Taliban have launched major offensives targeting government forces across the rugged countryside

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