Ties between Pakistan and Afghan Taliban on the edge

Since the Taliban takeover in August, it will not be a surprise if Pak-Afghan ties deteriorate in coming months

On Saturday, three Pakistani soldiers were martyred in an attack, according to the military’s media wing, carried out by terrorists from inside Afghanistan. It was the latest in a series of cross-border terrorist attacks happened in recent weeks.

On April 14, at least 7 Pakistani soldiers lost their lives in a similar cross-border raid in the North Waziristan district. Following that attack, Pakistan reportedly carried out retaliatory strikes in Kunar and Khust provinces of Afghanistan, targeting the hideouts of the banned TTP. Pakistan did not publicly acknowledge carrying out the strikes though in a rare move that suggested deepening tensions between the two countries the Afghan interim foreign minister summoned our Ambassador in Kabul. The Pakistan’s envoy was told not to carry out air strikes on the Afghan territory. In Islamabad, meanwhile, the Foreign Office issued the strongest statement yet condemning the use of Afghan soil against Pakistan.

“In the last few days, incidents along Pak-Afghan Border have significantly increased wherein Pakistani security forces are being targeted from across the border,” read the Foreign Office statement. It added Pakistan had repeatedly requested the Afghan government in last few months to secure the Pak-Afghan border region since terrorists were using Afghan soil with impunity to carry out activities inside Pakistan. It noted that Pakistan and Afghanistan had been engaged for the past several months through institutional channels for effective coordination and security along our long shared border. “Unfortunately, elements of banned terrorist groups in the border region, including TTP, have continued to attack Pakistan’s border security posts, resulting in martyrdom of several Pakistani troops. On 14 April 2022 as well, 7 Pakistan Army Soldiers were martyred in North Waziristan District by terrorists operating from Afghanistan,” the statement said.

Pakistan, once again, strongly condemned terrorists operating with impunity from Afghan soil to carry out activities in Pakistan. “This is detrimental to our efforts of maintaining peace and stability along Pak-Afghan Border,” read the strongly worded statement.

The statement said Pakistan requested the sovereign Government of Afghanistan to secure the Pak-Afghan border region and take stern actions against the individuals involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan, in the interest of peace and progress of the two brotherly countries.

“Pakistan also takes this opportunity to reaffirm respect for Afghanistan’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Pakistan will continue to work closely with the Afghan Government to strengthen bilateral relations in all fields,” according to the statement.

Since the Taliban took control of Kabul, there were hopes in Pakistan that given the country’s close relationship with the group, the new Afghan government would take care of its security concerns.

The Taliban initially tried to broker a peace deal between Pakistan and the TTP but those efforts made little impact except a month-long truce.

It appears that after several months of failed efforts to deal with the question of TTP, Pakistan’s relationship with the Taliban government is now on the edge.

Many observers had already predicted that given the Taliban’s close affiliation with the TTP and the ideology they share with it, they would never take action against such the terrorist outfit. This means the relationship between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban is likely to sour, further jeopardising efforts for peace and stability in the region. This is going to be one of the major challenges facing the new government in Pakistan. For last many weeks, the domestic political situation has put such issues including the increasing threat posed by the TTP under the carpet. But the visit of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif to North Waziristan last week highlighted the urgency to deal with the problem. Given what happened so far since the Taliban takeover in August, it will not be a surprise if Pak-Afghan ties deteriorate in coming months.

April 25, 2022

Source :https://tribune.com.pk/story/2354062/ties-between-pakistan-and-afghan-taliban-on-the-edge

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