A Taliban fighter stands guard a day after, clashes that erupted at Afghanistan-Pakistan border in Spin Boldak, Afghanistan, 12 December 2022. EFE-EPA/STRINGER

Taliban shift terror blame to Pakistan amid rising regional tension

Islamabad/Kabul, Aug 9 (EFE).- Diplomatic row between Afghanistan and Pakistan escalated on Wednesday as the neighbors continued to trade terror accusations and of providing safe havens to Islamist militants.

Unease has been brewing between Pakistan and its once “strategic friend,” the Taliban, amid a surge in deadly attacks on Pakistani security forces and civilians, particularly the July 30 suicide bombing on a political rally that killed 63 people in the tribal Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

A regional affiliate of the Islamic State militant network claimed responsibility for attacking the political gathering near the Afghan border.

Pakistan alleges that the militants who attacked a military camp in Balochistan on July 12, killing nine soldiers, were Afghan nationals.

Islamabad accuses the Afghan Taliban of providing “safe havens” to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership and fighters on their soil.

The TTP, which is not directly linked but shares Islamist ideology with the Afghan Taliban movement, has claimed many militant attacks in Pakistan.

The group, which increased its insurgent activities after the Taliban returned to power in Afghanistan, fights to overthrow the federal government and impose its brand of Shariah law.

However, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid dismissed all Pakistani terror allegations, reiterating the known stance that the Afghan territory “will not be used against the security of any country.”

He placed the responsibility for preventing attacks in Pakistan on its security and intelligence apparatus.

“It is not our responsibility to prevent and control attacks inside the territory of Pakistan. It is the responsibility of the security and intelligence agencies of Pakistan,” Mujahid said.

The Taliban leader emphasized that Pakistan needed “to find a solution on its own” and stop blaming others for its security challenges.

Mujahid noted that the Taliban security forces gunned down “18 Pakistani” Islamic State militants in the last 12 months who carried out attacks in Afghanistan.

“Dozens of them (Pakistani Islamic State members) were captured in Afghanistan (and) all documents and evidence are with us.”

He said despite that, the Taliban did not blame Pakistan but bolstered its security against the Islamic State and prevented their activities.

“We will not allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against Pakistan,” Mujahid said, noting that the Taliban government was “not in favor of” undermining the security in the neighborhood.

Afghanistan was not responsible for Pakistan’s security failure, said Mujahid, noting the security situation in the region “improved significantly” since the Taliban came to power in Kabul.

The strong Taliban retort came in response to Pakistan claiming it identified some attackers as Afghan nationals.

Pakistan army chief General Asim Munir has expressed concerns over the “liberty of action” banned militant outfits allegedly enjoy in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has concerns over sanctuaries available to banned outfits…on Afghan soil,” Munir said, according to a statement by Pakistan Army’s media wing, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).

He warned that Pakistan would “spare no effort to dismantle terrorist networks…at all costs.”

Pakistan has witnessed a surge in terrorism-related incidents following the fall of Kabul to the Afghan Taliban, especially in the provinces bordering Afghanistan. EFE