Pakistan offers assistance to Afghanistan to 'curb terrorism'

Pakistan offers assistance to Afghanistan to 'curb terrorism'

Foreign Minister Zardari says Islamabad has right to respond if 'attacks from Afghan soil' continue

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan's Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari on Tuesday asked the interim Afghanistan government to honor its "commitment" of not letting the terrorist groups operate from its soil, offering Islamabad's assistance in curbing the "menace of terrorism."

Addressing a ceremony at the Foreign Ministry in Islamabad, Zardari said his country expects the Afghan interim government to take action against the terrorist organizations and honor their commitment made with the international community under the 2020 Doha agreement.

“In the past, we had faced the threats and together will face them,” he added. Pakistan, he said, was ready to assist them as they had the capacity issues to deal with such threats, Zardari was quoted as saying by the state-run Pakistan Television.

Observing an increase in the terrorist incidents after the Taliban's storming back to power in Kabul in Aug. 2021, he warned that Islamabad has the right to "respond" if the attacks continue.

The fresh warning came on the heels of an uptick in terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent months, for which Islamabad accused the "Afghanistan-based" Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella of several militant groups in the South Asian nuclear country.

Kabul, for its part, denies the charge.

Zardari claimed that the "latest" arms and ammunition left behind by foreign forces have fallen into the hands of terrorist outfits and criminal organizations, which they are using to carry out terrorist attacks against Pakistan.

"Pakistan’s stance is clear. We have demanded the Afghan interim setup to curb terrorism, as cooperation against the menace of terrorism is in the interest of both countries," he maintained.

"Afghanistan had no standing army, anti-terrorist force or border management force which caused the capacity issues to face terrorism," he went on to say.

Pakistan, believed to hold a degree of influence over the Taliban, hoped for a relatively more secure western border and a decline in attacks that have claimed thousands of lives in the country over past decades.

The reality has been starkly different as attacks have surged in Pakistan in the past two years.

January this year was the deadliest month in Pakistan since July 2018, with 134 people killed and 254 injured in 44 attacks across the country, according to data compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, an Islamabad-based think tank.

Just in the last two weeks, there have been four blasts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the northwestern Pakistani province that borders Afghanistan.

The latest and the deadliest among them was a suicide attack at a public rally in Bajuar tribal district on Sunday, killing 56 people and injuring over 200.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Asim Munir visited Peshawar today to review the security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, according to a statement from the Prime Minister's Office.

During the visit, the prime minister was briefed on the overall security situation in the province with a focus on the Khar suicide blast in Bajuar, the status of investigations under process, and counter-terrorism efforts being undertaken to dismantle the terrorists’ network by disrupting the linkages between planners, executioners, and abettors.

The prime minister noted with concern the involvement of the Afghan citizens in the suicide blasts and the liberty of action available to the elements hostile to Pakistan in planning and executing such cowardly attacks on innocent civilians from the sanctuaries across the border.

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