South Asia

Pakistan’s PM concerned over involvement of ‘Afghanistan nationals’ in attacks

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Mohammad Shehbaz Sharif has voiced concerns over what he said was the involvement of Afghanistan nationals in attacks, including suicide bombings, on targets in Pakistan.

During a visit to Peshawar on Tuesday, Sharif and Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir visited victims of Sunday’s suicide bombing. They also reviewed the status of investigations into the bombing that targeted a political rally in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

About 400 members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) party were meeting Sunday when a suicide bomber detonated explosives, killing at least 56 people.

According to Sharif’s office, the prime minister was “briefed on the overall security situation in the province with focus on the Khar suicide blast, 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.”

Sharif “noted with concern the involvement of the Afghan citizens in the suicide blasts and 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,” the statement read, adding that the “interim Afghan government should undertake concrete measures towards denying its soil to be used for transnational terrorism.”

“These cowardly attacks by terrorists cannot weaken our resolve to eradicate the menace of terrorism from Pakistan. Security Forces and law enforcement agencies with the support of the Nation will ensure that those responsible for the dastardly attacks are brought to justice as soon as possible,” Sharif said.

Sunday’s attack took place in the town of Khar, 45 kilometers from the Afghanistan border, in an area where militancy has been rising since the Taliban regained control.

An Afghanistan-based branch of Daesh claimed responsibility for the attack, Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Sharif’s comments came just hours after Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari called on the Taliban to honor its “commitment” under the 2020 Doha agreement of not allowing terrorist groups to operate from Afghanistan.

Speaking at an event in Islamabad on Tuesday, Zardari said his country expects the Taliban to take action against terrorist organizations.

“In the past, we had faced the threats and together will face them,” he said, adding that Pakistan was ready to assist the Taliban as it had the capacity to deal with such threats.

Noting that terrorist incidents have increased since the Taliban’s take over two years ago, Zardari also warned that Pakistan has the “right to respond” if the attacks continue.

This comes after a spate of attacks in Pakistan over the past few months, many of which have been blamed on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which Islamabad claims is operating out of Afghanistan.

Zardari also claimed that arms and ammunition left behind by NATO and US troops have fallen into the hands of terrorist groups and are being used in 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 said. Zardari also stated: “Afghanistan had no standing army, anti-terrorist force or border management force which caused the capacity issues to face terrorism.”

In the past two weeks, four explosions have targeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which borders Afghanistan. The latest, on Sunday, at a political rally killed 56 people and wounded over 200.