Pakistan sends Kabul a “stern message” about upcoming strikes
Sources said the warning was conveyed through diplomatic channels after the recent attack in Bannu carried out by an Afghan national.
This was the 16th suicide attack carried out by a national of the neighbouring country since the return of the Afghan Taliban to power in August last year.
Sources said that Pakistan told the Afghan government in unequivocal terms that if such attacks continue there would be strong response from the country.
Although there was no clarity on what possible action Pakistan might take, it is believed that the possibility of cross-border strikes is not ruled out.
In April 2022, Pakistan did carry out limited air strikes targeting the hideouts of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) across the border.
Strikes, never publically owned by Islamabad, compelled the Afghan Taliban to persuade the TTP to come to the negotiating table and announce a ceasefire.
However, it is said that cross-border attacks if carried out this time would probably be not limited ones. Nevertheless, sources added that Pakistani authorities were hoping the stern warning would push the Taliban regime to mend their ways.
Pakistan is frustrated with the Afghan Taliban’s inaction against the TTP and its sanctuaries on Afghan soil. Despite repeated demands, the Taliban government is not willing to take action against the terrorist outfit.
The Afghan Taliban’s reluctance to use force against TTP stems from the fact that both fought together during the US military campaign in Afghanistan.
The Afghan Taliban considered the TTP as their ally and guest, who according to them helped the insurgent group when they were removed from power by the US after the 9/11 attacks.
However, Pakistan has linked the future cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan with Kabul taking decisive action against the TTP.
Following the Bannu suicide attack on November 26, Pakistan summoned the representative of the Afghan mission in Islamabad to record a strong protest over the use of Afghan soil.
Sources revealed that the Afghan representative was conveyed the four key demands. Those demands include full investigation into the Bannu attack and stern action against perpetrators and abettors.
Pakistan also demanded immediate “verifiable actions” against all terrorist groups and their sanctuaries, according to sources.
Similarly, the Afghan Taliban representative was told to apprehend Hafiz Gul Bahadur and hand him over to Pakistan. Islamabad also reiterated its demand from the Kabul regime to prevent the use of Afghan soil for terrorism against Pakistan.
It is not clear if the Afghan Taliban will pay heed to Pakistan’s latest demands as it has in the past refused to act against the TTP and its affiliates.
Tensions have been running high between the two countries for months over the issue.
Since the return of Taliban in August 2021, the number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan has gone up by 60 per cent while suicide attacks rose by 500 per cent.