Islamabad: The Daily Times quoted an official as saying that Pakistan has warned the interim Afghan Taliban administration that if terrorists involved in cross-border attacks in the country are not eliminated, Islamabad will take action against them within Afghanistan.

A high-level Pakistani delegation led by Defense Minister Khawaja Asif conveyed this message to Afghanistan’s acting Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar during his one-day visit to Kabul on Wednesday. Asif was accompanied by Lt Gen Nadeem Ahmed Anjum, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) chief, and other senior officials from the defense and foreign ministries, the Daily Times reported.

“Our delegation delivered a very loud and clear message to Afghan Taliban leadership to stop Afghanistan-based militants of the Tehreeke-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from launching any spring offensive inside Pakistan and eliminate them from Afghan soil,” a senior security official told Anadolu on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

“In case of failure to stop the TTP from cross-border attacks and does not take any action to eliminate them or expel them from their hideouts, then Pakistan has no other choice except to target their hideouts in border areas inside Afghanistan,” said the official, who claimed to be well aware of the meeting’s details. The Daily Times reported that the meeting was also attended by Afghan Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and Acting Defense Minister Mullah Mohammad Yacoub, where Yacoub raised the matter of last year’s US drone strike in Kabul, according to the official source.

In August 2022, US President Joe Biden announced that his forces had killed al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri in a drone strike, which the Taliban interim administration refused to openly acknowledge.

Afghan officials alleged that the US carried out the attack using Pakistani airspace. Nevertheless, Islamabad rejected the claim, saying that the US was never allowed to use its airspace against Afghanistan. Taliban officials also insisted that the TTP has no presence in Afghanistan, with all of its leadership having relocated to Pakistan following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021.

“We showed them proof of how TTP planned and carried out recent attacks in Bannu and Peshawar from Afghanistan and warned them that any further attack would result in a tough response from Pakistan,” the security official said. He was referring to the Bannu counter-terrorism facility, which was taken over by TTP militants for three days in December last year, killing at least two security personnel before the Pakistan Army killed all of the terrorists in an operation.

Over 100 people, mostly police officers, were also killed in a suicide bombing at a mosque inside a police compound in northwestern Peshawar late last month. When asked about the expected Pakistani response in the event of an attack, the official said, “We have no other option but to target militants’ hideouts in border areas inside Afghanistan. We have delivered this message to them,” added.

The tension between the two neighbors escalated after the Taliban removed border fences at some points along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, resulting in an increase in TTP terrorist attacks inside Pakistan in recent months. Baradar was one of the top commanders who reportedly spent several years in captivity with the Pakistani army before being released to lead a Taliban delegation to the historic Doha talks in 2020, which paved the way for the recapture of Afghanistan.

Kabul wanted to strengthen trade and economic ties with Islamabad, he said, stressing the importance of fraternal ties between the two neighbors. He stressed that trade and economic issues should not be separated from politics and security. According to the Daily Times report, the Pakistani delegation also promised to resolve these issues.

By Archana

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