The airstrikes by Pakistan in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nangahar provinces resulted in the death of almost 20 children, sparking a series of protests against Afghanistan across several Afghan cities
In a veiled warning to Pakistan, Taliban’s Defense Minister Mullah Yaqoob said they will not tolerate “invasions” in future, and added that he held back reaction to the attack- a reference to airstrikes by Pakistan- because of the higher national interests. The remark came days after Pakistan conducted a series of airstrikes inside Afghanistan, targeting the Pakistan Taliban militants, raising tensions between the Afghan Taliban and Islamabad.
"We can't tolerate the invasion. We have tolerated that attack. We tolerated that because of national interests, next time we might not tolerate it," Yaqoob, acting Afghan defense minister, said at a ceremony in Kabul commemorating the ninth anniversary of the death of his father, Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar.
Addressing the gathering, he said, “We are facing problems and challenges from both the world and our neighbors, the clear example is invasion by them in our territory in Kunar."
The airstrikes by Pakistan in Afghanistan’s Kunar and Nangahar provinces resulted in the death of almost 20 children, sparking a series of protests against Afghanistan across several Afghan cities.
The remark, the first public statement from a top leader, is significant as it comes as the tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan are growing. Casualties among Pakistan security forces have been rising in attacks by the TTP militants who often cross over to the region across the border inside Afghanistan.
Over 100 Pakistani soldiers have been killed so far this year in different attacks, the majority of them were conducted by the TTP, which shares fraternal and ideological ties with the Afghan Taliban.
Contrary to the earlier belief within the Pakistan establishment, the threat has only grown to Pakistan's security since the return of the Afghan Taliban.
Two of the main objectives behind Pakistan’s two-decade long-covert support to the Afghan Taliban were the recognition of the Durand Line as the border and the controlling the activities of the TTP in the border region in Afghanistan. For now, despite the Taliban’s return to Afghanistan, both objectives appear beyond its reach.
Significantly, a report in The Express Tribune, citing Pakistani officials, said the Afghan Taliban has in fact started moving some TTP camps away from the border region.
“Some of the groups have already been moved out of our border regions," a senior Pakistani official, who deals with the issue, was quoted as saying by the report.
Pakistan, the official said, though, doesn't agree with the approach but accepts the Taliban’s decision to at least stop immediate cross-border terrorist attacks. "Our demand is clear that these groups must be eliminated or dealt with in a manner that they never pose threat to us again," the official added.