South Asia

Pakistan says airstrikes targeted ‘terrorists’, not Afghan civilians

Pakistan’s Foreign Office clarified on Thursday that recent airstrikes, which the Taliban claims killed eight civilians, were aimed at “terrorists” and not Afghan civilians.

During the weekly briefing, Foreign Office Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that Islamabad had repeatedly furnished the Taliban with evidence of terrorist activities within Afghanistan, asserting Pakistan’s intolerance for such actions on its soil.

“An operation targeting the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Gul Bahadur terrorist groups was conducted on March 18, based on intelligence,” Baloch stated.

She further mentioned that, according to the latest reports, the Afghanistan-Pakistan border remains calm, and Islamabad is keen on resolving conflicts with the Taliban jointly.

“We respect the sovereignty of Afghanistan,” she affirmed.

A Foreign Office statement released on March 16 identified the operation’s targets as terrorists from the Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group, which, alongside the TTP, has orchestrated numerous terrorist attacks in Pakistan, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of civilians and law enforcement officials.

The statement highlighted a recent attack on March 16, 2024, at a security post in Mir Ali, North Waziristan, which resulted in the death of seven Pakistani soldiers.

Pakistan has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Interim Afghan Government over the last two years regarding the presence of terrorist organizations, including the TTP, on Afghan soil. These groups have been a constant threat to Pakistan’s security, utilizing Afghan territory to execute terror attacks in Pakistan, the Foreign Office noted.

However, the Taliban has condemned the airstrikes as an act of aggression, alleging that they resulted in the deaths of five women and three children in the Barmal district of Paktika and the Spera district in Khost province.