January 4, 2023
ISLAMABAD – Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on Tuesday that his government desired “good relations” with Pakistan and all neighbouring countries, but urged Islamabad to refrain from issuing “provocative and baseless” statements.
The statement comes after the National Security Committee (NSC) on Monday categorically asked Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, without directly naming them, to deny safe haven to Pakistani terrorist groups on its soil and end their patronage, while reiterating its intent to crush terrorist groups operating inside the country with full force.
The uncharacteristically strong-worded statement issued at the end of the NSC meeting, which spanned two days, said: “Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of the (sic) Pakistan’s territory.”
At the same time, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif said that Afghanistan’s soil continued to be used against Pakistan, despite the commitment made by the Taliban in the Doha agreement.
“It is the obligation of the Afghan interim government to stop terrorists from creating chaos,” Asif had said. The minister had also rejected the Afghan defence ministry’s statement claiming that banned militant group Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) did not exist in Afghanistan.
Further, in a TV interview over the weekend, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had said that Pakistan may target TTP militants in Afghanistan if authorities in Kabul did not take any action against them.
In a statement released today, Mujahid said that Pakistani officials had issued statements in recent days that were “highly regrettable”.
“The Islamic Emirate is trying its best to ensure that Afghanistan’s territory is not used against Pakistan or any other country,” he said, adding that Kabul was serious about achieving this objective.
The Taliban spokesperson added that the Pakistani side was also responsible for taking steps to control the situation and to avoid issuing “baseless and provocative” statements.
“The Islamic Emirate attaches importance to peace and stability in Afghanistan. Similarly, we want peace and stability in the whole region and will continue efforts for this objective,” the Taliban spokesman said.
Separately, Mujahid told BBC Pashto on Tuesday that TTP leaders were residing in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. “We do not give shelter to TTP leaders but they come to Kabul for negotiating with Pakistani delegations. They would come from Pakistan for the talks,” Mujahid claimed.
It is pertinent to mention here that Pakistan has seen an uptick in terrorist attacks across the country, believed to have been planned and directed by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders based in Afghanistan.
The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban, executed around more than 100 attacks last year, most of which happened after August when the group’s peace talks with the Pakistan government began to falter. The ceasefire was formally ended on Nov 28, 2022 by the TTP.
The law and order situation in the country has worsened over the past few months, with terrorist groups like TTP, the militant Islamic State group, and Gul Bahadur Group executing attacks with near impunity across the country.
Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the TTP.
The incident at the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police’s Counter-Terrorism Department interrogation centre in Bannu and the suicide bombing attempt in Islamabad not only set off alarm bells in the power corridors but also left several countries worried about the security of their nationals.