Pakistan’s tough warning to Afghanistan

Cross-border terror attacks a bone of contention

When the Taliban fighters in August 2021 seized power, taking control of Afghanistan, the Taliban-led government clarified that Afghan soil would not be used for any terrorist groups like Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Al-Qaeda or ISIS for terror-attacks against neighbouring countries, including Pakistan. But, regarding some terror attacks, sources suggested that some militants of the TTP, which is based in Afghanistan, have entered Pakistan from Afghanistan. Hence, military leadership had warned Kabul to check this infiltration.

Pakistan’s armed forces and primary intelligence agency ISI have successfully broken the backbone of the foreign-backed terrorists. Peace has been restored in Balochistan province and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province and in Karachi as well as in other vulnerable regions.

But terrorist attacks continued in KP and especially Balochistan, which is central point of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)— show that the CIA-led Indian RAW and Israeli Mossad are destabilizing Pakistan and want to damage the CPEC project which is part of China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative, or BRI, as Washington and New Delhi have already opposed this project.

RAW is also using some terrorist outfits such as ISIS and the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA)-linked Majeed Brigade which claimed responsibility for a number of terrorist assaults on workers and labourers, working for the CPEC projects in Balochistan. These terror entities also abducted and killed many Chinese nationals.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban skirmished with Pakistani security forces at the Pakistani territory from across the Chaman border on December 10, and fired mortars at civilian areas, martyring at least seven people and injuring 17 persons.

But, despite Kabul’s apology, unprovoked heavy shelling by the Afghan Border Force killed at least one person and injured at least 16 people on December 15, at the same border area.

Pakistan has warned the interim Afghan Taliban administration that if the TTP, involved in cross-border attacks, are not eliminated, Islamabad would take action against it within Afghanistan. Not only that, all facilitators and abettors of terrorists would also face the same consequences. 

The clashes erupted after the Afghan Border Force tried to prevent the Pakistani authorities from repairing part of the fence along the border. Pakistan, in order to prevent the movement of militants and ensure better border management, has fenced a nearly 2600-km-long frontier.

Islamabad was hoping for improvement in bilateral ties after the return of the Taliban to Kabul. But, despite promises, Afghanistan failed to tackle the banned TTP and frequent border incidents highlight the challenges faced by both sides in improving ties.

In this regard, the head of the Pakistan diplomatic mission in Kabul,Ubaid-ur-Rehman Nizamani, narrowly survived an assassination attempt on December 2. Next day, Afghanistan’s Foreign Minister Maulvi Amir Khan Muttaqi and Taliban Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abdul Qahar Balkhi condemned the attack on the Pakistan embassy, saying that Taliban security agencies would investigate.

And the Afghan Chargé d’Affaires in Islamabad had been called in over the “extremely serious lapse in security” and that he told them that security had been “beefed up” at Pakistan’s mission.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the assault, which came just days after Pakistan’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar visited Kabul to meet Taliban authorities to ease tensions along the border.

The attack occurred at a time of heightened security concerns in areas bordering Afghanistan after the TTP on November 28 ended the ceasefire agreed with the Pakistan government in June and ordered its militants to stage attacks across the country.

The TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, is a separate unit from the Afghan Taliban, but both share a similar hardline ideology.

Despite receiving humanitarian and economic support from Pakistan, the Taliban government has failed to rein in the TTP from carrying out attacks. The tribal areas of North Waziristan close to the Afghan border have suffered from attacks at regular intervals in which many Pakistani soldiers have been martyred.

Taking cognizance of the recent terror attacks on Police in KP in Lakki Marwat Bannu Cantt, Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) in Bannu, holding several security personnel hostage, exchange of firing, a deadly suicide blast at a mosque in the Peshawar Police Lines martyred many persons of the security forces, including civilians, with a briefing given to the Apex Committee which includes civil and military leadership that the banned outfit TTP was indeed the mastermind of the attacks. The meeting decided to take up the matter with the interim Afghan government, with a clear message that Pakistan would no longer tolerate cross-border terrorism.

In this connection, a high-level Pakistani delegation led by Defense Minister Khawaja Asif along with DG ISI Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, and other senior officials from the Defence and Foreign Ministries, visited Kabul on February 22, with the main agenda of countering terrorism and the use of Afghanistan soil by the TTP militants.

In this respect, the major concerns of Pakistan were communicated to the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, such as the TTP’s ideological alignment with the Tehreek Taliban Afghanistan and its legacy of coexistence, TTP hideouts/shelters in Afghanistan, unaccountable movement and activities of TTP with deliberate facilitation of Afghanistan.

Notably, the GDI, the Afghan intelligence agency, briefed the Pakistani delegation and accepted the problem of terrorism was originating from Afghanistan’s soil. They also presented details of the solution, but that was found unsatisfactory, lacking in addressing the key security concerns of Pakistan.

Then ISI gave irrefutable evidence of TTP presence and the location of its leadership in Afghanistan. Therefore, the Afghan leadership could not deny the facts on-ground and could not muster the courage to mention about the evidence, given by Islamabad in connection with TTP presence in their Press Release.

Afghanistan accepted and agreed to work for regional peace and control TTP elements inside Afghanistan.

In this context, the Pakistani leadership communicated in unequivocal terms that Pakistan’s goodwill should not be taken as a sign of weakness and tangible actions be taken against TTP militants, and also expressed serious concerns over provocations by Afghan forces along the Pakistan-Afghan border.

Pakistan also rebutted the Afghan stance of mismanagement of Afghan nationals at various border-crossings. They were told that the Afghanistan side repeatedly failed to ensure provision of border crossing protocols for Afghan citizens, their travel with incomplete and fake documents as well as failure to comply with legal movement procedures.

Islamabad has already made all out efforts to facilitate Afghan nationals who are legally crossing into Pakistan on a daily basis.

It is mentionable that as regards the recent terror assaults, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Afghan Taliban “to prevent terrorist organizations…the Tehreek-i-Taliban (TTP) from attacking Pakistan or any other neighbouring country from Afghan territory.”

Nevertheless, Pakistan has warned the interim Afghan Taliban administration that if the TTP, involved in cross-border attacks, are not eliminated, Islamabad would take action against it within Afghanistan. Not only that, all facilitators and abettors of terrorists would also face the same consequences.

Sajjad Shaukat
Sajjad Shaukat
Sajjad Shaukat writes on international affairs and is author of the book: US vs Islamic Militants, Invisible Balance of Power: Dangerous Shift in International Relations and can be reached at [email protected]


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