Islamabad will seek decisive action by Kabul against the “terrorist sanctuaries” of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan after the deadly Badbher attack was traced back to the neighbouring country, officials familiar with the development said on Friday.
Following the attack on the former base of Pakistan Air Force (PAF) in Peshawar, the government is contemplating dispatching a high-powered delegation to Kabul soon to discuss the situation with Afghan authorities.
Initial investigations show that the Badaber attack was “planned, controlled and executed” from Afghanistan. A senior security official said the government will present Kabul with the ‘hard evidence’ shortly.
The official, who asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the issue, disclosed that the authorities had ‘enough evidence’ to prove that Afghan soil was used by splinter groups of the TTP for the latest attack.
“Pakistan will convey to Afghanistan that it will no more tolerate such attacks emanating from its soil,” said the official without going into details. The official said Pakistan had long been pushing Afghanistan to eliminate the ‘terrorist sanctuaries’ of the TTP from its territory.
Soon after the massacre at the Army Public School (APS) in December last year, army chief General Raheel Sharif dashed to Kabul and sought tough action against the masterminds of the APS attack.
At the time, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani assured that his government will not allow Afghan territory to be used against Pakistan. In return, Islamabad also pledged to take action against groups inimical to Afghanistan and help broker a peace deal.
However, relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have deteriorated in recent weeks following a sudden spike in violence in Afghanistan. President Ashraf Ghani, who earlier praised Pakistan for helping his country strike a peace deal with Afghan Taliban, had publicly accused the country’s security establishment of being behind the attacks in Afghanistan.
Islamabad has strongly denied the charge.
The Badaber attack is likely to further complicate relations between the two countries as Pakistan is expected to go tough on Afghanistan for lack of action against the TTP sanctuaries.
However, the official said Islamabad was still seeking a cooperative relation with Kabul and hoped that the Afghan administration will reciprocate Pakistan’s efforts to fight the menace of terrorism. He said the civil and military leadership would take the final decision regarding sending the high-powered delegation to Kabul.
It is also expected that the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will raise the issue during a possible meeting with the Afghan president at the sidelines of the annual UN General Assembly session in New York later this month.
According to sources, the decision was taken after the Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a series of meetings with civil and military leaders in Islamabad and Peshawar.
According to a statement, the prime minister first held crucial meeting witSSSh his close aides at the PM House. The meeting was attended by senior officials and cabinet members, including Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid.
During the meeting, Air Chief Marshal Sohail Aman also briefed the PM via phone about the security forces’ operation in Badhber. Sources said the premier was informed that the Badhber attack was being supervised from Afghanistan.
Sources said the prime minister later left for Peshawar and held an important meeting at the Corps Headquarters Peshawar, where he was briefed about details of attackers’ links with Afghanistan.
Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, corps commander Peshawar, air chief marshal and other senior civil and military leaders attended the meeting.
PM Nawaz also visited Peshawar’s Combined Military Hospital, where he enquired about the condition of patients. He also attended funeral prayers of martyred Captain Asfandyar Bukhari.