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Pakistan: Terrorists Enjoy ‘Safe Havens’ in Afghanistan

FILE - Pakistani security officials inspect a damaged truck at the site of suicide bombing on the outskirts of Quetta, Pakistan, Nov. 30, 2022. The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan reiterated a call for Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities Friday to rein in “terrorists” plotting assaults across their shared border after insurgents killed at least 12 Pakistani soldiers this week.

“Such attacks are intolerable and would elicit an effective response from the security forces of Pakistan,” a military statement said without elaborating. “The involvement of Afghan nationals in acts of terrorism in Pakistan is another important concern that needs to be addressed.”

The stern warning came two days after insurgents raided an army base in Baluchistan and ambushed security forces elsewhere in the southwestern province, which borders Afghanistan. The violence Wednesday killed at least 12 soldiers and a civilian, making it the deadliest day for the military in recent months.

“The armed forces of Pakistan have serious concerns on the safe havens and liberty of action available to TTP in Afghanistan,” the military said.

It referred to the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, waging terrorist attacks against the Pakistani state. The group is an offshoot and close ally of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistani officials say TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, has moved its operational bases to Afghanistan and stepped up cross-border attacks since the Taliban regained control of the neighboring country in August 2021.

Baluchistan and the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan have experienced much of the resurgent violence. Insurgent suicide bombings and attacks reportedly have killed more than 400 Pakistanis, including security forces, nationwide since the beginning of 2023.

The Pakistani military has lost at least 120 officers and soldiers in militant attacks in the first six months of the year. TTP and the so-called Baluch Liberation Army, both designated as global terrorist organizations by the United States, have claimed responsibility for plotting most of the bloodshed.

“It is expected that [the] interim Afghan government would not allow the use of its soil to perpetrate terror against any country, in the real sense and in line with commitments made in the Doha Agreement,” the Pakistani military said Friday.

The statement referred to the February 2020 deal the United States negotiated under the Trump administration with the then-insurgent Taliban in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

The landmark understanding paved the way for all U.S.-led NATO troops to depart Afghanistan just days after Taliban insurgents seized power, ending two decades of U.S. involvement in the war. The Taliban, in turn, pledged they would not allow terrorist groups to threaten other countries from Afghan soil.

The Taliban government did not immediately respond to Friday’s allegations by Pakistan. Taliban leaders have maintained they do not allow TTP or any other groups to threaten neighboring countries, including Pakistan, from Afghan soil.

Pakistani officials say they have found evidence that fighters of the Afghan Taliban joined hands with TTP to carry out attacks.

The rise in TTP attacks has strained Islamabad’s relations with the Taliban-led government in Kabul. The Taliban brokered and hosted talks between Pakistan and the TTP in June 2022, leading to a cease-fire. But the insurgents unilaterally ended the truce last November and resumed their terror campaign against the Pakistani state.