ISLAMABAD: In a terse message, the army asked Kabul on Friday to take action against 76 Pakistani terrorists operating from Afghan territory or hand them over to Pakistan for trying them over their involvement in terrorism, and ratcheted up pressure on Ashraf Ghani’s government by separately urging US-led Nato mission there to push his administration to act against the wanted men.

A statement by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said that senior Afghan diplomats were summoned to the General Headquarters over the recent spate of terrorist attacks in Pakistan and asked to ensure that immediate action was taken against the Pakistani terrorists living in safe havens in their country.

The army, which took the lead in dealing with Afghanistan over the terrorist sanctuaries there, had soon after the Sehwan shrine attack announced closure of the border crossings with Afghanistan citing security reasons.

Sartaj Aziz gives similar message to Afghan national security adviser

The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), an Afghanistan-based Pakistani terrorist group, had claimed responsibility for some of the attacks and hinted at unification of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan’s splinter groups.

After a suicide attack in Lahore, the Foreign Office had summoned the Afghan deputy head of mission and asked Kabul to address Pakistan’s concerns about the sanctuaries there.

The military did not give any details about the individuals being sought. It is, however, believed that the list could include the names of TTP chief Fazlullah, JuA’s Omar Khalid Khorasani and Ehsanullah Ehsan, Khan Said Sajna, and Lashkar-e-Islami chief Mangal Bagh — some of the terrorists whose handover Pakistan has long been seeking.

“The Afghan authorities have been given a list of 76 terrorists who are hiding across since long and planning/directing/supporting terrorist activities in Pakistan. Afghan government has been asked to target them/hand them over to Pakistan,” ISPR said.

Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa later phoned US Commander in Afghanistan Gen John Nicholson, who heads Nato’s Resolute Support Mission (RSM), to solicit his support for the demand for action against the 76 Pakistani terrorists.

He told Gen Nicholson that recent attacks had been claimed by terrorist groups operating from Afghanistan.

The Afghan government’s inaction against these groups, the army chief said, was “testing our current policy of cross-border restraint”.

The ISPR said: “COAS asked Commander RSM to play his role in disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support.”

The list of 76 wanted terrorists was shared with the RSM commander.

Gen Nicholson had in his testimony before the US Senate Armed Services Committee last week said the militant Islamic State (IS) group in Afghanistan mostly comprised TTP terrorists.

The Sehwan attack was claimed by IS.

Meanwhile, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs Sartaj Aziz called Afghan National Security Adviser Hanif Atmar to call for strong action against Pakistani terrorists based in Afghanistan.

He told Mr Atmar that JuA, which is operating from sanctuaries and safe havens in Afghanistan, was behind the latest terrorist attacks. He regretted that Kabul in the past did not pay heed to Pakistan’s requests for action against these groups and individuals.

President Ghani in a statement condemned the attack on the Sehwan shrine and reminded Pakistani leaders that IS was a common enemy.

He called for sincerity in the fight against terrorism and maintained that his government’s honest actions against terrorism should not be doubted.

Published in Dawn, February 18th, 2017


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