Tehrik-e-Taliban leader Noor Wali Mehsud alongside another movement commander. (Photo Credit: TTP Media)
In a statement to local media on 2 January, the Minister of Defense of Pakistan, Khawaja Asif, issued a harsh statement against the Taliban, blaming the leadership for failing to uphold promises on border security and stability.
Asif accused the leadership of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) of harboring Pakistan-designated terrorist groups on its soil, which resulted in the deterioration of stability in the country.
The remarks are in reference to Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a militant group with close ties to the Taliban. The group aims to establish an Islamic Emirate in Pakistan, similar to the Afghan model.
According to Al-Jazeera, the TTP is responsible for more than 150 attacks inside Pakistan, which resulted in the death of dozens of civilians alongside members of the security services.
December 2022 was designated the deadliest month for security forces in the past decade, as the insurgency killed 40 Pakistani soldiers.
“They [TTP] are coming from across the Afghan side of the border to carry out these activities,” Asif told Geo News TV.
He added that “they may have sleeper cells here [in Pakistan], but their overwhelming presence is on Afghanistan’s soil, which is being used for cross-border terrorism.”
Asif elaborated that they contacted Afghanistan’s government officials about the situation and reiterated the need to uphold their obligation based on the Doha agreement with the US.
“We have been requesting the Taliban ever since they returned to power to stop the TTP from plotting terrorist activities in Pakistan,” Asif noted.
His remarks align with the statement issued by the National Security Committee (NSC) of Pakistan, which vowed not to allow any country “to provide sanctuaries to terrorists.”
The council promised to “deal with the full force of the state,” to crush those attempts, and those negatively sabotaging the border peace between neighboring states.
Although the statement made no reference to Afghanistan explicitly, the spokesman for the IAE, Zabihullah Mujahid, issued a swift commentary early on 3 January, to restore calm with Pakistan.
“The Islamic Emirate is trying its best so that the territory of Afghanistan is not used against Pakistan or any other country. We are committed to this goal,” Mujahid tweeted.
He added that the Taliban government seeks good ties with all neighboring countries, including Pakistan, but that Islamabad is also responsible for controlling its border.
Mujahid then ridiculed Asif and the NSC’s attempts to blame Afghanistan for their problem, demanding that they “refrain from giving baseless statements and provocative assertions, because [it would lead to] mistrust which is not in the interest of either side.”
These tensions occurred despite the Taliban’s attempts to broker peace between the TTP and Pakistan. However, the assassination of the group’s envoy Omar Khalid Khorasani contributed to the end of the ceasefire.
Khorasani led the peace talks between the TTP and the Pakistani government in Kabul, during a truce agreed upon by both parties as a show of goodwill back in June 2022.
Pakistan’s concerns are shared by the US government, which factored in more than $15 million to improve security along the Afghan border.
“The government of Pakistan is a partner when it comes to these shared concerns, including the challenge of terrorist groups along the Afghan-Pakistan border … we stand ready to assist,” announced the spokesperson of the State Department, Ned Price.