ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday reiterated its demand for Afghanistan to extradite the leaders of banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a designated terrorist group, while underscoring the need for bringing to justice those responsible for terrorism and maintaining regional security.

“We urge Afghanistan to take immediate and effective action against these terrorist entities, hand over their leadership to Pakistan, and those individuals who have been involved in terrorist activities inside Pakistan,” Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said at the weekly media briefing.

Her comments came in the backdrop of the thirty-third report submitted to the United Nations Security Council Committee by the militant Islamic State (IS) group and Al Qaeda/Taliban Monitoring Team, which showed that besides the patronage of Taliban administration, Afghanistan-based TTP enjoys the backing of Al Qaeda and also has links with East Turkestan Islamic Movement and Majeed Brigade.

“We have shared concrete evidence with regards to their involvement with Afghan authorities,” the spokesperson said and added that Pakistan government was “very concerned” that TTP is given a free hand to attack Pakistan, and to sponsor terrorist activities inside Pakistan.

FO says border with Afghanistan is an internationally recognised, legally valid reality

Ms Baloch, meanwhile, emphasised that Pakistan-Afghanistan border is an internationally recognised and legally valid reality.

Her statement came in response to remarks by Noorullah Noori, the acting Taliban Minister of Borders and Tribal Affairs, who referred to the Durand Line as an “imaginary line” and contested the clarity of the border between the two countries. The Durand Line has long been a subject of contention, with Afghanistan historically disputing its legitimacy as a border.

The FO spokesperson stressed the non-negotiable status of the border’s validity, stating that it has “never been on the agenda between Pakistan and Afghanistan and will never be.”

Playing down Indian allegations of terrorism against Pakistan, she said, those were “neither new nor credible”. She further observed that Delhi recklessly levels terrorism charges against others and does not even spare individuals supporting opposing teams in cricket matches.

However, she reminded that the allegation levelled by Pakistan last week that India was involved in assassinations in Pakistan has not been denied by Delhi. “In our statement made by the Foreign Secretary, we provided credible evidence of India’s involvement in extra-territorial and extra-judicial killings in Pakistan,” Ms Baloch maintained.

“The reality is that India is involved in terrorist incidents inside Pakistan and it has been involved in such terrorist incidents and extra-judicial killings and extra-territorial killings in countries around the world. And it is not just Pakistan which has made these claims. These claims are now coming from other countries with frequency,” she added.

Negating the impression that the cypher episode, involving former prime minister Imran Khan and former Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in which both had been sentenced to 10 years in prison, compromised the entire cypher security system of the state and secret communication, the spokesperson said that the communication system remains secure.

“We have recently done an audit of our communication systems and we are reassured that these systems as per our recent audit are safe and protected,” she said.

Published in Dawn, February 2nd, 2024

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