Pakistan target TTP hideouts
Photo: Express Tribune

Pakistan warns the Taliban: do not provide sanctuaries to terrorists

A longtime ally of the Taliban, Pakistan was accused of sponsoring the group's insurgency in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has warned the Taliban that his country may target Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan ( TTP) hideouts inside Afghanistan unless they are dismantled, amid escalating tensions between the two countries.

In a statement released following a meeting of the country’s National Security Council on Monday, 2 January 2023, Mr Sharif said that, ” no country will be allowed to provide sanctuaries and facilitation to terrorists and Pakistan reserves all rights in that respect to safeguard her people. NSC reiterated its resolve to have zero tolerance for terrorism in Pakistan and reaffirmed its determination to take on any and all entities that resort to violence. This will be dealt with full force of the state. Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of the Pakistan’s territory.” 

Pakistan’s National Security Council, the country’s highest state body on security and foreign policy, have held two meetings in a week, in which the country’s top civil and military officials, including Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, disucssed deteriorating security issues across its border with Afghanistan, which has seen a number of deadly cross border skirmishes in recent months. 

Mr Sharif tweeted today that “NSC took some major decisions yesterday after hours-long deliberations. Two of them stand out: State of Pakistan will adopt zero tolerance policy for terrorists challenging its writ. Peace is non-negotiable. Two, economic roadmap will revive economy & provide relief to the people” 

Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rana Sanaullah, warned last week that Pakistani forces would target the TTP hideouts inside Afghanistan if the Taliban regime hesitates to dismantle them.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah speaks at press briefing in Islamabad. He has warned that Pakistan could target TTP hideouts inside Afghanistan (Photo: APP/File)

The Taliban reacted angrily, saying that they would defend any military action. “It is mentionable we have better experience than anyone in defending and protecting our country,” the Taliban defense ministry said in a statement on Monday, 2 January.

Although the Taliban rejects the presence of TTP hideouts in Afghanistan, the two Islamist groups have long been allied to each other. In August 2022, a senior TTP commander, Abdul Wali, was killed in a roadside bomb blast along with three other TTP militants in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Paktika.

TTP fighters posing for a photo with a captured armored military vehicle in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border town of Landikotal (Photo: AFP)

Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo News, that Afghanistan’s soil is being used against Pakistan despite an agreement with the Taliban government. He urged the Taliban to fulfil its commitments made in the US-Taliban Doha deal, adding that Pakistan was in “constant touch” with the Taliban regime over border violations.

A longtime ally of the Taliban, Pakistan was accused of sponsoring the group’s insurgency in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2021. The country was one of the three countries along with Saudi Arabia and the UAE to formally recognise the group when it was last in control of Afghanistan in the late 1990s to October 2001. But despite their close ties, Pakistan is yet to recognise the group’s rule this time.

Pakistan interior minister, Rana Sanaullah, said on Wednesday 4 January 2023 that his country will no longer negotiate with the TTP and “other terrorist organisations.” Rana Sanaullah, once more, demanded the Taliban “not to provide sanctuaries to Pakistani terrorist groups on its soil.”