Cross border terrorism has become intolerable : Khwaja Asif

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Pakistan’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif has stated that his country does not desire an armed conflict with Afghanistan, following Islamabad’s airstrikes on alleged terrorist hideouts across the border.

In an interview with Voice of America (VoA), Asif emphasized, “Force is the last resort. We do not want to have an armed conflict with Afghanistan.”

He cautioned that Pakistan could block the corridor it provides to landlocked Afghanistan for trade with India if Kabul fails to curb anti-Pakistan terrorists operating on Afghan soil, questioning the rationale behind providing this corridor if Afghanistan treats Pakistan as an enemy.

Asif highlighted the surge in terror attacks in Pakistan since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan in August 2021. He noted that a message needed to be sent that cross-border terrorism has become intolerable. He expressed Pakistan’s desire to convey to the de facto rulers in Kabul that the current situation is untenable.

Regarding Pakistan’s interactions with the Taliban, the defence minister stated that during a visit to Kabul in February 2023, he advised Taliban ministers to not let past “favours” from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) tie Kabul’s hands.

He warned, “If they [TTP] can harm us, then we’ll be forced to [retaliate].” Asif expressed hope that Afghanistan would meet the “single demand” of reining in the TTP, thereby preventing the need for future military strikes from Pakistan.

Asif also alleged that Kabul was allowing the TTP to operate against Pakistan to prevent its members from joining the Islamic State terrorist outfit’s local chapter, known as IS-Khorasan Province. He referred to IS-KP as a major internal security threat for Afghanistan.

Despite China’s silence on the cross-border fighting, Asif dismissed the lack of public support from Beijing, stating, “It’s not necessary that the world must applaud us. What is in our interest is enough for us. We are protecting our interest, irrespective of whether someone applauds us or not.”

Pakistan strikes inside Afghanistan

Accusing certain elements in the Taliban government for patronizing the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates, Pakistan carried out what it termed “intelligence-based anti-terrorist operations” in the border regions inside Afghanistan on Monday, in a significant escalation in tensions between the two neighbours.

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