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Afghanistan should take strong steps to safeguard the Doha deal: Khawaja Asif

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Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Saturday strongly rebuked Afghanistan for “neglecting its duties as a neighboring and fraternal country”, and for disregarding vital obligations made in the Doha peace agreement, specifically its commitment to prevent the use of Afghan soil for terrorist activities.

  1. The minister’s statement ces just a day after the armed forces of Pakistan voiced their “serious concerns regarding the safe havens and freedom of movement enjoyed” by the proscribed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) within Afghanistan.

The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) had issued the statement following 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. Gen Munir is presently in Iran, having arrived there yesterday for an official visit scheduled to last two days.

A total of nine soldiers were martyred in the attack that took place on Wednesday while security forces killed five terrorists in retaliatory action.

According to Zhob District Commissioner (DC) Azeem Kakar, a civilian woman was also killed in the incident after being caught in the crossfire while five other civilians were left injured.

In a tweet today, the defence minister lashed out at Afghanistan, alleging a failure to uphold its commitments as outlined in the Doha agreement.

“Afghanistan is neither fulfilling its obligation as a neighbouring and brotherly country nor safeguarding the peace agreement.”

According to Asif, Pakistan has provided refuge to five to six million Afghan refugees for 40 to 50 years with all their rights intact. However, he added: “Conversely, the terrorists who shed the blood of Pakistanis find refuge on Afghan soil.”

The minister cautioned that the ongoing situation could no longer persist. He asserted that Pakistan would employ all possible resources and measures, “with the guidance of Allah, to safeguard its territory and citizens”.

In another tweet, the minister stated that the individuals who attended the assembly during the PTI government and provided briefings to the members, emphasising the advantages of bringing the TTP from Afghanistan to Pakistan, should also communicate with the families of those who become martyrs on a daily basis.

He further stated that those individuals were the ones who “introduced Imran Khan in 2018”, leading to the unfortunate events of May 9 that the nation had to endure.

“For the subsequent four years, they were responsible for causing immense destruction to our beloved country in every possible aspect.” He prayed to Allah to protect “this sacred land through the sacrifices made by the martyrs.”

Pakistan has witnessed an increase in terrorist activities, particularly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan, following the termination of the ceasefire between the government and the banned TTP in November of the previous year.

Apart from the assault on Zhob garrison, the militants also targeted security forces in Sui, Balochistan, resulting in the martyrdom of three brave soldiers who valiantly fought during the exchange of fire. Two terrorists were eliminated during the operation.

The cumulative loss of 12 soldiers from these attacks marks the highest single-day death toll reported by the military from terrorist incidents this year.

During a weekly news briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch emphasised the importance of Afghan authorities fulfilling their commitments to prevent their territory from being exploited for terrorism against Pakistan.

Baloch stressed that it was the responsibility of Afghan authorities to ensure that their land was not utilized for hostile activities against Pakistan. She further noted that Afghan authorities had acknowledged this responsibility on multiple occasions.

Afghan Taliban reaction

When asked to comment on the military’s statement, Taliban spokesperson in Qatar, Suhail Shaheen, told Dawn that Kabul was committed not to allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against any other country.

“We have made it clear time and again that we are committed not to allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against any other country because stability in the region and in Afghanistan is essential as we are intending to make Afghanistan hub of regional trade and prosperity. It is only possible when the region enjoy peace and stability,” he said.

 

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