Pakistan urges Kabul for action against use of Afghan soil by militants

Published August 1, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief of the Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir visit the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar on Tuesday. — APP
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Chief of the Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir visit the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar on Tuesday. — APP

Pakistan urged the Taliban administration in Kabul on Tuesday to take measures against the use of Afghan soil by militants.

“The interim Afghan government should undertake concrete measures towards denying the use of its soil for transnational terrorism,” said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif during a visit to Peshawar where he met citizens injured in a blast in Bajaur on Sunday.

He also expressed concern over the “involvement of Afghan citizens in suicide blasts and the liberty of action available to elements hostile to Pakistan in planning and executing such cowardly attacks on innocent civilians from the sanctuaries across the border”.

Sunday’s explosion was also a result of a suicide attack and had ripped through a Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam Fazl convention in Bajaur’s Khar, leaving 54 dead and over 80 injured. The proscribed militant Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

During his visit to Peshawar, PM Shehbaz was briefed about the overall security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with a focus on Sunday’s blast and the status of the investigation of the incident.

He was further apprised of counter-terrorism efforts being undertaken to “dismantle the terrorists’ network by disrupting the linkages between planners, executioners and abettors”.

Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir also accompanied the premier on the occasion.

Following the briefing, the premier appreciated the emergency efforts undertaken by the army in the evacuation of wounded personnel from Khar to Peshawar.

He also instructed the authorities concerned to extend the best possible healthcare services to the wounded patients until their full recovery.

While interacting with the bereaved family members of the victims, PM Shehbaz assured them that the entire nation stood with them in their time of grief.

“These cowardly attacks by terrorists cannot weaken our resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism from Pakistan. Security forces and law enforcement agencies with the support of the nation will ensure that those responsible for the dastardly attacks are brought to justice as soon as possible,” he said.

Writ of the state will be established at all costs: FM Bilawal

Separately, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called on Taliban authorities in Kabul to take action against militant elements using the Afghan soil.

Addressing a ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the foreign minister said Pakistan expected the Afghan interim government to take action against terrorist organisations and honour its commitment made with the international community under the Doha Agreement to not allow its soil to be used for terrorist activities against any country.

He said Pakistan’s stance was “clear” and it had demanded the Afghan interim set-up to curb terrorism, as cooperation against the menace of terrorism was in the “interest of both countries”.

Bilawal further noted that Afghanistan lacked a standing army, anti-terrorist force or border management force, which he said caused capacity issues regarding terrorism.

But, he added, “We have faced these threats in the past and will face them together again”. Pakistan, he said, was ready to assist Afghanistan as it had the capacity to deal with such threats.

“The writ of the state will be established at all costs, and the government will not take steps to appease militant or terrorist outfits,” he asserted, adding that he had suggested to the prime minister to convene an apex committee meeting to address the issue of terrorism and crime in the country.

The foreign minister also highlighted that an increase was scene in terror incidents since the Taliban administration came to power in Kabul in 2021.

Moreover, he said, “The latest arms and ammunition left behind by the foreign forces had fallen into the hands of terrorist outfits and criminal organisations, which pose a challenge to the government.”

Surge in terrorism

Over the past few months, the law and order situation in Pakistan has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.

Since the talks with the banned militant group Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) broke down in November, the militant group has intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the outlawed TTP.

A report released this month by think tank Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies said the first half of the current year witnessed a steady and alarming rise in terror and suicide attacks, claiming the lives of 389 people across the country.

The militant assaults have been focused on regions abutting Afghanistan, and Islamabad alleges some are being planned on Afghan soil — a charge Kabul denies.

Last month, the armed forces of Pakistan also expressed “serious concerns on the safe havens and liberty of action available to” the banned TTP in Afghanistan.

The army also said that 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 added.

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