File photo from 2021 shows Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid (centre) at a press conference in Kabul (Photo: Xinhua/IANS)
Kabul has reacted strongly to Pakistani Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah saying that Islamabad may attack Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) insurgents in Afghanistan if it feels threatened.
In a late night statement on Sunday, Afghanistan’s Ministry of National Defense said that it considers as “provocative and baseless recent speeches of the Pakistani Interior Minister about the presence of (TTP) in Afghanistan and their possible attack inside Afghanistan”.
The statement added that such speeches by Pakistan damage the “good relations between the two neighboring and brotherly countries.” It further said that evidence exists which indicates that TTP centers exist inside Pakistan.
Statement of the Ministry of Defense regarding the recent assertion of the Pakistani Interior Minister
The Ministry of National Defense considers as provocative and baseless recent speeches of the Pakistani Interior Minister about the presence of (TTP) in Afghanistan …
— د ملي دفاع وزارت – وزارت دفاع ملی (@MoDAfghanistan2) January 2, 2023
In a stern admonishment of the Pakistani minister’s interview to Pakistani news organisation Express News, the Afghan ministry responded by saying, “we request that any concerns and problems should be resolved through understanding”. It added that Afghanistan is ready to defend its territorial integrity and independence, “and it is mentionable we have a better experience than anyone in defending and protecting our country”.
Afghan news agency Tolo News too published detailed news on the war of words between the two nations.
Relations between the two neighbours have deteriorated sharply after Pakistan blamed Afghanistan for sheltering TTP militants who have been carrying out regular attacks on Pakistani security forces. Tensions have arisen on the Durand line – the colonial border between the two Islamic nations, which has been rejected by Afghanistan and also the Pashtuns who reside on both sides of the border.
Alarmed by the rising frequency of killings on the border as well as in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, Pakistani minister Sanaullah had told local media that the government will speak with Afghanistan to dismantle TTP hideouts and hand over the militants to Pakistan. The interior minister added that “international laws give you the right to target those who attack you.”
Just last week Pakistan had to face the shame after numerous countries – US, UK, Australia and Saudi Arabia – issued advisories to their citizens to not venture out or visit hotels in Islamabad due to heightened fear of militant attacks.
In an unprecedented decision, Pakistan’s National Security Committee (NSC) met twice within a week to take stock of the deteriorating security and economy. On Monday, the NSC met for the second time under the leadership of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. The NSC has resolved to fight terrorism head-on.
Recently, Chinese President Xi Jinping too had told Prime Minister Sharif that Pakistan will have to do more to protect Chinese nationals in Pakistan from attacks.