Pakistan warned Thursday that cross-border terrorism emanating from Afghanistan “is both alarming and dangerous” for regional peace, calling on the neighboring country’s ruling Taliban to honor their anti-terror pledges.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah issued the warning amid a new wave of deadly terrorist attacks in Pakistan that has claimed the lives of hundreds of people, mostly security forces.
Outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), known as the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed credit for plotting much of the violence. Leaders and commanders of the group, an offshoot and ally of the Afghan Taliban, have largely taken refuge in Afghanistan.
“If the TTP is claiming responsibility for terrorist activities in Pakistan, it should be a matter of serious concern for the government of Afghanistan because their soil is being used for terrorism,” Sanaullah told reporters in Islamabad.
“[The Taliban] have given assurances to the world that they would not allow the use of Afghanistan’s soil by terrorist outfits, and they should deliver on their pledges.”
The Afghan Taliban deny they allow TTP or any other group to use Afghan territory for plotting cross-border terrorist attacks, promising they will try for treason anyone found guilty of such crimes.
Sanaullah spoke a day after TTP claimed credit for a suicide bombing of a truck transporting policeman on their way to protect medical workers administering polio vaccines in southwestern Baluchistan province.
The blast in the provincial capital, Quetta, killed at least four people and wounded more than two dozen, mostly policemen.
TTP is listed as a global terrorist organization by the United States and the United Nations. It has carried out hundreds of suicide attacks and other terrorist strikes in Pakistan, killing tens of thousands of people since 2007 when the group emerged in volatile districts along the Afghan border.
Pakistan sustained years of counterterrorism military operations, which forced TTP members to flee to Afghanistan and establish sanctuaries there. But the return to power in Kabul of the Taliban in August 2021 has emboldened TTP members, and they enjoy greater operational freedom on the other side of the border, Pakistani officials maintain.
Sanaullah noted up to 7,000 combatants linked to the Pakistani Taliban and their families are currently sheltering on Afghan soil, saying the government is ready to talk with them to facilitate their repatriation if they agree to surrender and hand over their weapons in compliance with Pakistani laws.
TTP announces end to unilateral “cease-fire”
On Wednesday, the TTP said it was ending a unilateral “cease-fire” with the government and resuming attacks across Pakistan in retaliation for the government’s military operations against the group.
Pakistani officials rejected the claims as “lame excuses” and said the operations were launched to prevent TTP fighters from regrouping or reorganizing in the country.
The militant truce stemmed from several rounds of talks the Taliban government in Afghanistan recently brokered and hosted between Pakistani and TTP representatives.