Paktia officials say foreign fighters have joined ranks with local Taliban

The governor of Paktia, Mohammad Halim Fidai says the Taliban are not committed to peace and have allowed foreign fighters to join their ranks in the province, which has led to intensified fighting in the area.

He said the foreign fighters, who are mostly Pakistani nationals, has led to an increase in attacks on security posts in many districts and has rendered roads in the province insecure.

“I believe that the armed Taliban are not committed to peace. They have violated the deal which they have signed (US-Taliban deal),” said Fidai

This comes amid a deadlock in talks between the Afghan negotiating team and the Taliban team in Doha.

One of the obstacles in the way of talks currently is the Afghan team’s concerns over using the Doha deal between the United States and the Taliban brokered in February as the cornerstone to peace talks.

Critics have claimed that the Taliban is already in breach of that agreement as the group was supposed to have cut all ties with foreign terrorist groups including al-Qaeda.

But Paktia residents have raised concerns over the increased insecurity in the province and Paktia’s governor went as far as to say the Doha agreement has in fact strengthened the Taliban.

The Paktia provincial council also raised concerns and confirmed the presence of foreign Taliban militants in the province – which borders Pakistan.

They said these fighters are Pakistan Taliban who are fighting alongside the Afghan Taliban and that they easily cross the porous border – the Durand Line – into Patan and Zazi Aryub districts.

“We have spoken with people, some are Pakistani nationals, some are Chechens, all are foreign nationals integrated with the local Taliban,” a provincial council member Janat Gul Samkanai said.

“Everything (all attacks) is being planned in Pakistan and implemented in Afghanistan,” Abdul Malik Zazai head of the provincial council said.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid told Ariana News that there was no truth in what Paktia provincial officials have claimed and said there were no foreign fighters with them and that they had not attacked Afghan security forces.