Kabul says Sanaullah’s remarks on TTP hideouts in Afghanistan ‘provocative and baseless’

Published January 2, 2023
This combo photo shows Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Afghan Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.
This combo photo shows Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and Afghan Spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid.

The Afghan Taliban administration on Sunday rejected Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah’s remarks pertaining to the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s (TTP) hideouts in Afghanistan, calling them “provocative” and “baseless”.

In an interview with Express TV last week, Sanaullah had said that Pakistan may target TTP militants in Afghanistan if authorities in Kabul did not take any action against them.

“Afghanistan is our brotherly country and we will first talk to them to dismantle the TTP hideouts and hand over the group’s members to Pakistan,” the interior minister had said.

In case of inaction by the Afghan authorities, Sanaullah had warned that “the international laws give you the right to target those who attack you”.

Sanaullah passed these remarks while talking about the decisions taken in the first round of the National Security Meeting — the principal decision-making forum on foreign policy and national security — which took place on Friday. It had decided to response with “full force” to those who challenged the country.

“There was an understanding in the NSC’s meeting that there is no other option but to opt for a clearance operation,” he had said.

It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan has seen an uptick in terrorist attacks across the country, believed to have been planned and directed by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders based in Afghanistan.

The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban, has executed around 115 attacks so far this year, most of which happened after August this year when the group’s peace talks with the Pakistan government began to falter. The ceasefire was formally ended last month by the TTP.

Pakistan has been pressing successive governments in Kabul to take action against the TTP and other militants based in Afghanistan.

The Afghan National Defense Ministry on Sunday issued a statement, saying that it “views the Pakistan interior minister’s (Sanaullah) statement about the presence of TTP in Afghanistan and possible attack as provocative and baseless.”

It claimed that there was “proof” of TTP bases in Pakistan and such “claims by Pakistani officials harm good relations between two brotherly neighbouring countries”.

“Afghanistan calls for resolution of every concern through understanding,” the statement added.

It also said that Afghanistan was “ready to defend its territorial integrity and independence” and knew how to defend the country.

Rising terror

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups such as the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Islamic State group, and Gul Bahadur Group executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.

The incident at the Khyber-Pakh­tunkhwa police’s Counter-Terrorism Dep­art­ment interrogation centre in Bannu and the botched suicide bombing attempt in Islamabad not only set off alarm bells in the power corridors but also left several countries worried about the security of their nationals in Islamabad.

The US, UK, Australia and Saudi Arabia have issued advisories, asking their nationals to restrict movements in Pakistan and avoid non-essential trips.

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