Islamabad: Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Asif has warned the Afghan Taliban that Islamabad will strike terrorists’ hideouts inside the country if the de facto rulers in Kabul are unable to rein in anti-Pakistan militants. Asif, in a recent interview with VOA, said in his late-February visit to Afghanistan that he reminded Taliban leaders to live up to their cross-border security commitments forbidding terrorists from using Afghan soil to plan and conduct attacks on Pakistan or Islamabad will take action, Samaa TV reported.
“If that is not done, at some point we’ll have to resort to some measures, which will definitely – wherever (terrorists) are, their sanctuaries on Afghan soil – we’ll have to hit them,” he said. “We’ll have to hit them because we cannot tolerate this situation for long.”
Since the Afghan Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August 2021, Pakistan has witnessed a resurgence in terror attacks led by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an ideological offshoot and ally of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan alleges the TTP leadership is operating from Afghanistan after Pakistani military operations in the border areas a few years ago forced it to flee along with thousands of fighters, Samaa TV reported.
Asif claimed Taliban leadership “responded very well” to the recent warning. He said he believes that the Afghan Taliban are trying to “disentangle” from the TTP, after receiving support from the group to fight the US-led coalition troops. Pakistan’s military is now contemplating a comprehensive plan, including a possible military operation in areas bordering Afghanistan, Samaa TV reported.
Asif said the economic crisis is the biggest threat to the country right now, and the military, which receives the largest chunk of the annual federal budget, is looking at curtailing its expenses.