NOOR Wali Mehsud, leader of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has attempted to rebuff the impression that they are getting any backing from the Afghan Taliban regime in Kabul, saying that his group was attacking Pakistan from “within its territory”.

“We are fighting Pakistan’s war from within the territory of Pakistan; using Pakistani soil. We have the ability to fight for many more decades with the weapons and spirit of liberation that exist on the soil of Pakistan,” he said in an interview with CNN.

When asked if he was being secretive about help they were getting from the Taliban, he said, “When we don’t need any help from the Afghan Taliban, what is the point of hiding it?”

In recent weeks, Pakis­tan has witnessed a surge in cross-border attacks from Afghanistan and has pressed the Taliban government to take action against the culprits.

Warns US of retaliation in case group’s leadership is attacked

Last month, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar visited Kabul and raised the issue with the Taliban officials.

Pakistan has been urging the Afghan Taliban to live up to their commitments to not allow the regrouping of terrorist groups and the use of its soil as a launch pad for attacks.

The US has also shared Pakistan’s concerns and reiterated that it would take action if international terrorists regroup in Afghanistan.

However, the TTP chief warned the US of retaliation in case of any attack on the group’s leadership.

“America should stop teasing us by interfering in our affairs unnecessarily at the instigation of Pakistan — this cruel decision shows the failure of American politics,” CNN quoted Mr Mehsud as saying.

He made these remarks in response to a question on the possibility of the US targeting TTP commanders operating from inside Afghanistan like al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri who was killed in a drone strike in Kabul in September.

He said that “he did not expect America to take such action” against his group. “If America takes such a step, America itself will be responsible for its loss,” he warned.

He told CNN that the US was yet to understand Pak­is­­tan’s “duplicitous policy”.

“Pakistan’s history is a witness that it keeps changing directions for its own interests,” he said in the interview.

Mr Mehsud also blamed Pakistan for violating the ceasefire agreement, prompting the outlawed group to rescind it.

He claimed Pakistani forces “violated the ceasefire and martyred tens of our comrades and arrested tens of them.”

Last month, the outlawed group ended the ceasefire agreement and asked its combatants to carry out attacks across the country.

In a statement, the TTP claimed that the security forces had launched operations against their people in Bannu, Lakki Marwat and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Immediately after calling off the ceasefire, the TTP targeted a truck carrying a police contingent for the security of polio workers near Quetta.

Four peo­­ple were killed and 24 injured in the suicide attack.

On Friday, For­eign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari warned cross-border terrorism by the TTP or other militant groups would not be tolerated, adding that Islamabad reserved the right to take direct action against them.

He also said the Taliban government had failed Pakistan’s “hope and expectation” that Kabul’s new authorities “would be able to convince or constrain the TTP from conducting cross-border terrorist attacks.”

Published in Dawn, December 18th, 2022

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