The armed forces of Pakistan have “serious concerns on the safe havens and liberty of action available to” the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan, the military’s media affairs wing said in a statement on Friday.
The Inter-Services Public Relations’ (ISPR) statement came following Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir’s visit to Quetta Garrison where he was briefed on a recent attack on a military installation in Balochistan’s Zhob Cantt.
A total of nine soldiers were martyred in the attack that took place on Wednesday while security forces killed five terrorists in retaliatory action.
According to Zhob District Commissioner (DC) Azeem Kakar, a civilian woman was also killed in the incident after being caught in the crossfire while five other civilians were left injured.
Today, the ISPR said, the army chief visited the soldiers injured in the attack at Combined Military Hospital, lauded their services and appreciated their resolve. He also paid “rich tribute[s]” to the martyrs, the statement added.
In the statement, the military also expressed concern over the availability of “safe havens and liberty of action” to the TTP in Afghanistan and said, “It is expected that the interim Afghan government would not allow the use of its soil to perpetrate terror against any country, in the real sense and in line with commitments made in the Doha agreement”.
The agreement was signed in the Doha capital, Qatar, between the US and Afghan Taliban in February 2020 to bring an end to the 2001–2021 war in Afghanistan. The agreement ultimately led to the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan on Aug 15, 2021.
Meanwhile, Pakistan has repeatedly raised concerns over the use of Afghan soil by militants for cross-border terrorism. The ISPR statement today also pointed to the involvement of Afghan nationals in incidents of terrorism in Pakistan.
“The involvement of Afghan nationals in acts of terrorism in Pakistan is another important concern that needs to be addressed. Such attacks are intolerable and would elicit an effective response from the security forces of Pakistan,” it read.
The statement added that “operations against terrorists would continue unabated and the armed forces shall not rest till the menace of terrorism is rooted out from the country”.
Pakistan has seen an uptick in terror activities, especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, after the outlawed TTP ended its ceasefire with the government in November last year.
In addition to the attack on Zhob garrison, the militants also attacked security forces in Balochistan’s Sui, the ISPR said previously, adding, “During the fire exchange, three brave soldiers, having fought gallantly, embraced shahadat (martyrdom) while two terrorists were sent to hell during the operation.”
The combined deaths of 12 soldiers from the attacks is the military’s highest single-day death toll from terrorist attacks reported this year.
In a press conference in June, Inter-Services Public Relations Director General Maj Gen Ahmed Sharif Chaudhry said that the security forces conducted 13,619 intelligence operations this year in which 1,172 terrorists were killed or arrested.
“On a daily basis, over 77 operations are being carried out by armed forces, police, intelligence agencies, and other law enforcement agencies to rid of the menace of terrorism,” he said.
DG Sharif added that 95 soldiers embraced martyrdom in these operations.
More recently on Wednesday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch urged Afghan authorities during a weekly news briefing to fulfil their promises that their soil would not be used for terrorism against Pakistan.
She said it was their responsibility to ensure that their land was not used against Pakistan, and Afghan authorities had accepted this responsibility on various occasions.