Kabul told to look inwards for Ghazni attack causes

ISLAMABAD: Amid a renewed war of words between Pakistan and Afghanistan, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa on Friday rejected allegations that Ghazni attack was supported by elements from Pakistan and asked Kabul to look inwards for the causes.

“COAS reiterates that there is no support to any terrorist activity inside Afghanistan from Pakistan side,” the ISPR said in a statement, adding “Afghanistan needs to look inward as the problem resides inside Afghanistan”.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had earlier in the day asked Gen Bajwa to live up to his promise of addressing allegations of cross-border support for Taliban as he added his voice to those alleging role of Pakistani citizens in the Taliban attack on Ghazni city last week.

“Gen Bajwa, you signed a document with us and told me repeatedly in our conversations over the phone that when the elections (in Pakistan) are over you will pay attention to it. I need answers now….From where they came and why are they receiving treatment in your hospitals,” VoA quoted Mr Ghani as having said during a visit to Ghazni.

Last Friday, some 1,000 Taliban fighters stormed the city and retreated five days later. Afghan Defence Minister Tariq Shah Bah­rami and other officials had earlier said that external elements including Pakis­tanis had aided the Taliban.

Their claim was supported by ANP leader Afrasiab Khattak who through a tweet questioned what he claimed as the returning bodies of Pakistanis from war in Ghazni and the arrested Pakistani fighters.

Rejecting images circulating on social media of allegedly wounded fighters being carried across the border, the ISPR statement noted that “there are scores of Pakistanis working in Afghanistan in connection with various businesses/ labour who periodically fall victim to terrorism acts alongside their Afghan brothers inside Afghanistan. Terming such victims as terrorists is unfortunate”.

“Moreover, different factions of TTP, hiding in many sanctuaries inside Afghanistan under Afghan identities on becoming injured/ dead are transported into Pakistan for medical help. Additionally, Afghan refugees and their relatives also resort to similar practices,” it further said.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Office spokesman recalled that the monitoring team of the United Nations Security Council Sanctions Committee in its recent report lauded Pakistan’s counterterrorism efforts and acknowledged that extensive counterterrorist operations had led to a reduction in terrorism in the country.

“This is not the first time that the monitoring team has acknowledged Pakistan’s counterterrorism gains. Earlier, in February 2018, the monitoring team in its 21st Report had also noted with appreciation that Pakistani military operations have denied space for ISIL (Daesh) to establish an organisational structure in the area,” the FO said.

The statement reiterated commitment to defeat terrorism and recalled that the successes against terrorism were possible due to “its unwavering resolve and indiscriminate counterterrorism efforts”.