Pakistan’s military chief warns Afghan Taliban not to harbor militants as attacks escalate


Pakistan’s military chief warned the Afghan Taliban on Friday of an «effective response» from their forces if they do not stop harboring militants planning cross-border attacks from Afghanistan.

The stern remarks by army chief General Asim Munir came after two militant attacks this week killed 12 Pakistani soldiers in the country’s southwestern Balochistan province, which borders Afghanistan.

During a military gathering on Friday in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, Munir paid tribute to the fallen soldiers. Seven attackers were also killed by troops who returned fire during the attacks on Wednesday.

Both the Pakistani Taliban, an independent militant group that is also an ally of the Afghan Taliban, and extremists Islamic State group has a presence in Balochistan.

Taliban-appointed Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi, left, meets Pakistan Army Chief General Asim Munir in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in May. Inter Services Public Relations voa AP

However, a newly formed militant group, Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan, claimed responsibility for one of the attacks on Wednesday. That attack, in the Zhob district, left nine soldiers dead. It was not clear who was behind the other attack, in Sui district, in which three soldiers were killed.

The Taliban-led government in Kabul did not immediately respond to the Pakistani general’s comments.

Munir was quoted as saying the Pakistani military was seriously concerned about the «safe havens and freedom of action» the Pakistani Taliban have in Afghanistan. He said he hopes the Afghan Taliban will follow through on its promises in a 2020 deal with Washington to ban any terror group from using Afghan soil for attacks.

If they don’t, these «intolerable attacks would generate an effective response,» he said.

Along with Pakistani Taliban and ISIS militants, local Baloch separatists also have a strong presence in gas-rich Balochistan. The province has been the scene of a low-level nationalist insurgency for two decades. Initially they wanted a larger share of the provincial resources, but later started an insurgency for independence.

Along with Baloch separatists, the Pakistani Taliban—the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP—has claimed responsibility for most attacks on Pakistani troops and police in the province.

The TTP has been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021, when US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war.

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