KABUL: Afghanistan’s supreme leader has warned Taliban members against carrying out attacks abroad, the defence minister said, days after Islamabad hinted at involvement of “Afghan citizens” in suicide attacks inside Pakistan.

Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid said in a speech to members of Afghanistan’s security forces, broadcast by state television on Saturday, that fighting outside Afghan­istan is not religiously sanctioned jihad but rather war, which had been barred by Supreme Leader Hibatullah Akhundzada.

“If anyone goes outside of Afghanistan for the goal of jihad, it won’t be called jihad,” Mr Akhundzada said, according to Mr Mujahid.

“If the emir prevents the Mujahideen from going to battle and they still do it, this is war, not jihad.”

The remarks come after Islamabad said militants behind a spate of suicide attacks in Pakistan were being helped by “Afghan citizens” across the border, days after a deadly bombing claimed by the militant Islamic State group near the shared frontier. Scores of people were killed and dozens others injured in a suicide attack during a convention of the government-allied Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl party in Bajaur district.

Last week, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif stopped short of accusing Afghanistan’s Taliban government of knowingly allowing attacks from its soil, but he did reportedly say militants were operating from “sanctuaries” in the neighbouring country.

Since the Taliban surged back to power in Afghanistan two years ago, Pakistan has witnessed a dramatic uptick in militant attacks focused on its western border regions, claimed by both the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and IS. The TTP has waged a bloody campaign of bombings and other attacks across Pakistan.

Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities insist they do not allow the country’s soil to be used by armed groups plotting against other nations.

Published in Dawn, August 7th, 2023

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