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Tuesday May 28, 2024

Response to Saturday’s terror attack: Pakistan strikes terrorists inside Afghanistan

Pakistan once again sent a clear message to Kabul that these terrorists posed a grave threat to its security

By Mariana Baabar & Muhammad Anis & Wajid Ali Syed
March 19, 2024
Pakistans Air Force fighter JF-17 fighter jets fly past during the multinational naval exercise AMAN-23 in the Arabian Sea near Pakistans port city of Karachi on February 13, 2023. — AFP
Pakistan's Air Force fighter JF-17 fighter jets fly past during the multinational naval exercise 'AMAN-23' in the Arabian Sea near Pakistan's port city of Karachi on February 13, 2023. — AFP

ISLAMABAD/WASHINGTON: Pakistan confirmed carrying out an intelligence-based anti-terrorist operation inside Afghanistan on Monday morning, whose prime target was the terrorists belonging to Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group along with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group had earlier claimed responsibility for the terrorist attack.

“This group is responsible for multiple terrorist attacks inside Pakistan, resulting in death of hundreds of civilians and law-enforcement officials. The latest attack took place on 16 March 2024 at a security post in Mir Ali in North Waziristan and claimed the lives of seven Pakistani soldiers,” said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after over 13 hours after the operation.

Claiming eight people had been killed, Kabul summoned Pakistan’s chargé d’affaires in Kabul to register a “strong protest” over what it said were “alleged crossborder airstrikes in Khost and Paktika provinces which targeted the alleged Pakistani Taliban hideouts”.

At the funeral ceremony of the seven officers who had been killed in the Mir Ali terrorist strike, President Asif Ali Zardari said Pakistan would retaliate this attack from inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan once again sent a clear message to Kabul that these terrorists posed a grave threat to its security and had consistently used the Afghan territory to launch terror attacks inside its territory.

Instead, Pakistan once again reminded Kabul to find joint solutions to prevent terrorism.

“Terrorist groups like TTP are a collective threat to regional peace and security. We fully realize the challenge Afghan authorities face in combating the threat posed by TTP. Pakistan would therefore continue to work towards finding joint solutions in countering terrorism and to prevent any terrorist organization from sabotaging bilateral relations with Afghanistan,” pointed the statement.

The statement differentiated the ordinary people of Afghanistan from the terrorists living in safe sanctuaries inside Afghanistan.

“Pakistan has great respect for the people of Afghanistan. However, certain elements among those in power in Afghanistan are actively patronising TTP and using them as a proxy against Pakistan. Such an approach against a brotherly country, which stood with the people of Afghanistan through thick and thin, manifests shortsightedness,” said the statement.

It also pointed out that Kabul ignored the support extended by Pakistan to the people of Afghanistan over the last several decades.

“We urge these elements in power to rethink the policy of siding with Khwarij terrorists shedding the blood of innocent Pakistanis and to make a clear choice to stand with the people of Pakistan,” added the Foreign Office.

Over the past two years, Pakistan has repeatedly conveyed its serious concerns to the interim Afghan government over the presence of terror outfits, including TTP inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan reiterated that it accorded prime importance to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Afghanistan.

“It has, therefore, always prioritized dialogue and cooperation to confront the terrorist threat. We have repeatedly urged the Afghan authorities to take concrete and effective action to ensure that the Afghan soil is not used as a staging ground for terrorism against Pakistan. We have also called on them to deny safe havens to TTP and to hand over its leadership to Pakistan,” said the statement.

Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan said it does not allow anyone to compromise security by using Afghan territory,” Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesman for the Taliban administration, said in a statement. The strikes killed five women and three children in the eastern border provinces of Khost and Paktika, he claimed.

The Taliban defence ministry said its security forces had targeted Pakistani troops at the border in response to the air strikes.

In an operation, the Pak security forces killed eight terrorists, including a high value target and terrorists commander Sehra alias Janan who also orchestrated the attack on the security forces’ post on March 16 resulting in the martyrdom of two officers and five soldiers.

According to the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), the security forces on the night between Sunday and Monday, conducted an IBO in North Waziristan District, on reported presence of terrorists. After an intense exchange of fire, eight terrorists, including Sehra Janan, were killed. Sanitization operations are under way to eliminate any other terrorists in the area.

The US has called on the Taliban to ensure that terrorist attacks are not launched from Afghan soil while urging both Kabul and Islamabad to address their differences.

The State Department’s Principal Deputy spokesperson Vedant Patel acknowledged reports that Pakistan carried out airstrikes in Afghanistan in response to the attack in KP over the weekend at a military post. He deeply regretted the loss of life and injuries sustained during the attack in Pakistan and the loss of civilian lives during the strikes in Afghanistan.

“We urge the Taliban to ensure that terrorist attacks are not launched from Afghan soil. We urge Pakistan to exercise restraint and ensure civilians are not harmed in their counterterrorism efforts. We urge both sides to address any differences,” he said adding, that the US remains committed to ensuring that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for terrorists who wish to harm the United States or its partners or allies.

During the daily press briefing, Mr Patel explained why he asked Pakistan to show restraint. “Any loss of civilian life is troubling and heart breaking to us, so we want to make sure that when some of these operations are being conducted that every step possible is being taken, that it’s the perpetrators that are being held to account and not civilians who are being impacted.”

He further said that the US, in its regular communication with Pakistani leaders, discusses “Afghanistan in detail,” including through counterterrorism dialogue and other bilateral consultations.

Responding to a question about the meeting of the American envoy in Islamabad with the PM, the spokesperson said that the two sides discussed broad range of bilateral issues that included partnering with the government of Pakistan on regional security, US support for continued economic reforms with and through the IMF, trade and investment, education, climate change and other private sector-led economic growth issues. “We continue to engage with our Pakistani partners,” he said, concluding that they discuss a number of, range of, other issues as well.

Speaker National Assembly Sardar Ayaz Sadiq has commended the successful operation against the terrorists.

He said the whole nation along with the armed forces and would continue to fight against terrorism together. He also expressed resolve that the nation would continue to support its armed forces to eradicate terrorism from the soil of Pakistan.

Reminding the sacrifices rendered by the armed forces, he said every Pakistani stood shoulder to shoulder with them.

Deputy Speaker National Assembly Syed Ghulam Mustafa Shah also lauded the security agencies for the successful operation against terrorists in North Waziristan.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Monday visited the families of Lieutenant Colonel Syed Kashif Ali and Captain Ahmed Badr who sacrificed their life fighting terrorists in North Waziristan.

Shehbaz visited the house of Lt Col Kashif Ali in Chaklala, offered Fateha and prayed for high ranks of the Shaheed and patience for the bereaved family.

The prime minister paid homage to the martyr and said the people of Pakistan were proud of their martyrs and their families for rendering such sacrifices for the country.

He said the entire nation stood by the armed forces until the scourge of terrorism was extirpated.

On his visit to the residence of Captain Ahmed Badr, the prime minister offered Fateha and commiserated with the bereaved parents and sisters of the martyr.

He said the whole nation was proud of Captain Ahmed who sacrificed his life for the motherland.

Shehbaz was also moved by the remarks of the young officer’s father when he said his only son sacrificed his life for the country and he was proud of him.

“We are nothing without Pakistan,” he added.

The prime minister embraced the father of Capt Badr and consoled his mother and sisters.

Later, talking to the local elders, the prime minister said these martyrs were the pride of the nation and the entire nation was indebted to their sacrifices.

Reaffirming the national resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country, he said the sacrifices of our martyrs will not be in vain.

Shehbaz Sharif especially acknowledged with pride, the courage and patience of Shaheed Captain Ahmed’s parents.

On the occasion, the prime minister announced to establish a school in the area named after the Shaheed captain as per the desire of his father.

Minister for Defence Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Minister for Information and Broadcasting Attaullah Tarar also accompanied the prime minister on both occasions.