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Pakistan’s army expresses concerns over TTP’s safe havens in Afghanistan

In a statement released by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) on Friday, the armed forces of Pakistan expressed “serious concerns on the safe havens and liberty of action available to” the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan. The statement followed Chief of Army Staff Gen Asim Munir’s visit to Quetta Garrison, where he was briefed on a recent attack on a military installation in Balochistan’s Zhob Cantt.

During the attack, which took place on Wednesday, nine soldiers were martyred, while security forces killed five terrorists in retaliatory action. Tragically, a civilian woman lost her life in the crossfire, and five other civilians were injured, according to Zhob District Commissioner Azeem Kakar.

The ISPR stated that the army chief visited the injured soldiers at Combined Military Hospital, commending their services and expressing appreciation for their resolve. Rich tributes were also paid to the martyrs.

In the statement, the military voiced concern over the presence of “safe havens and liberty of action” granted to the TTP in Afghanistan. It emphasized the expectation that the interim Afghan government would uphold its commitment, as per the Doha agreement, by not allowing its soil to be used for terrorism against any country.

Pakistan has repeatedly raised concerns about militants using Afghan soil for cross-border terrorism. The ISPR statement also highlighted the involvement of Afghan nationals in terrorist activities in Pakistan, deeming such attacks intolerable and warranting an effective response from Pakistani security forces.

The statement affirmed the commitment to continue unabated operations against terrorists until the menace of terrorism is eradicated from the country. Pakistan has witnessed an increase in terrorist activities, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, since the TTP ended its ceasefire with the government in November of the previous year.

The recent attack on Zhob garrison, along with the militants’ assault on security forces in Sui, was mentioned in the ISPR’s statement, which reported the martyrdom of three soldiers and the elimination of two terrorists during the operation.

With the combined deaths of 12 soldiers, this marks the highest single-day death toll from terrorist attacks reported by the military this year. The ISPR Director General had previously stated that the security forces had conducted numerous intelligence operations, resulting in the elimination or arrest of 1,172 terrorists this year. The armed forces, police, intelligence agencies, and other law enforcement agencies are carrying out daily operations to combat terrorism.

In recent remarks, the Foreign Office spokesperson urged Afghan authorities to fulfill their promises of preventing their soil from being used for terrorism against Pakistan, emphasizing their responsibility in ensuring the non-utilization of their land for such purposes. Afghan authorities have acknowledged this responsibility on various occasions.