Pakistan urges Afghanistan to hand over TTP terrorists involved in Besham attack

  • Naqvi asks Afghan govt to act against terror network to maintain friendly ties between two countries
  • Says Islamabad well aware of forces trying to undermine Pakistan-China relations

LAHORE: Federal Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi on Sunday urged the interim Afghan government to take “action” against the terror group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), and hand over its leadership to Pakistan for its role in suicide attack on Chinese nationals in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa’s Besham.

“We demand that the interim Taliban government arrest the TTP leaders, including its chief Noor Wali Mehsud and hand them over to Pakistan to maintain friendly relations between the two countries,” Interior Minister Mohsin Naqvi told a press conference in Lahore, along with senior security officials.

Naqvi said that the TTP was behind the attack on Chinese nationals in Besham, and that the terrorists involved have been apprehended. He revealed that the suicide attack on March 26 targeting Chinese engineers was orchestrated by TTP terrorists, with operations coordinated from Afghanistan. “We have irrefutable evidence of this,” he said.

Naqvi expressed serious concerns about the use of Afghan soil for attacks on Chinese nationals. “This is a matter of grave concern for us,” he stated.

He said that the Pakistan government had requested the interim Afghan government to arrest Bakhtiar Shah, Qari Asadullah and Khan Lala and especially TTP Ameer Noor Wali Mehsud, TTP Malakand Commander Azmatullah Mehsud and other senior leaders of the TTP.

The interior minister said that Pakistan wanted good ties with Afghanistan and it was possible when Afghanistan would support Pakistan and not allow its soil to be used against Pakistan.

On March 26, a vehicle-borne suicide bomber targeted a convoy escorting Chinese engineers in the remote Besham area of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, killing six people, including the vehicle’s driver.

The Chinese engineers were en route to their camp in Dasu – the district headquarters of the Upper Kohistan district of K-P – from Islamabad. Their vehicle was hit by an explosive-laden vehicle, coming from the opposite direction, near Lahore Nala on the Karakoram Highway.

Islamabad has long accused Kabul of failing to take action against TTP terrorists who allegedly hide and operate from Afghanistan. Kabul denies the accusations.

The interior minister said that Pakistan has raised the issue with Afghanistan’s interim government, urging them to take action against these terrorists, but so far, there has been no positive response.

He said that terrorists, including those from TTP, are being supported in border areas by the neighbouring country. “We have numerous pieces of evidence supporting this,” he asserted.

Naqvi said that the TTP is operating against Pakistani interests and is involved in attacks on Chinese citizens and other acts of terrorism.

He warned that terrorists are exploiting the weaknesses of Afghanistan’s interim government, escalating threats to Pakistan’s security from across the border. “These cross-border threats are increasingly complicating our national security,” he said.

In light of these attacks, the minister said that Pakistan has intensified border surveillance, although terrorists still manage to find ways to infiltrate. “The government of Pakistan is well aware of the forces trying to undermine Pakistan-China relations,” Naqvi noted.

He emphasised the critical importance of Pakistan-China relations, stating that the security of Chinese nationals is a top priority. “We have implemented new standard operating procedures (SOPs) and are enforcing them strictly,” he added. “We are taking all possible measures to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals.”

National Counter-Terrorism Authority Coordinator Muhammad Tahir Rai gave detailed briefing about the investigation done related to Besham (Shangla) terrorist attack on March 26. He said entire incident was planned in Afghanistan and objective was to harm Pakistan and China relations.

He said that 11 accused namely Adil Shehbaz, Shafiq Qureshi, Zahid Qureshi, Nazeer Hussain, Faizullah, Fasihullah, Imran Swati, Sakha Ullah, Abdullah, Abdul Rehman and Kamal Khan had been arrested. The arrested culprits were in police custody on physical remand. He said that the arrested accused would face trial in local anti-terrorism court where challans would be submitted after completing legal formalities. Tahir Rai said that remaining accused belonging to the network including Hazrat Bilal would be arrested soon.

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