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Chitral attack not sanctioned by Afghan govt: FM

ISLAMABAD: Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani on Friday said this week’s terrorist attack on two military posts in Lower Chitral district was an “isolated incident” and not sanctioned by the interim Afghan government, Dawn.com reported.

On Wednesday, at least four security men embraced martyrdom while more than 16 fighters were killed as militants’ attempts to enter Pakistan from Afghanistan were foiled by troops deployed along the border with Afghanistan.

Militants had attacked two security checkposts in the southern part of the district. The pre-dawn attack had targeted check posts in Astui Pass and Jinjiret Koh situated in the south of Lower Chitral, bordering the Afghan province of Nuristan. Astui Pass is located in the Bumburet Valley, one of the three valleys in southern Chitral where the Kalash community resides.

“Terrorists’ movement and concentration in Gawardesh, Pitigal, Barg-i-Matel, and Batash areas of Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan had already been picked up and were timely shared with the interim Afghan government,” the military’s media wing had said, adding that the Afghan government was “expected to fulfil its obligations and deny the use of Afghan soil by terrorists for perpetuating acts of terrorism against Pakistan.”

The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack through its spokesperson, Mohammad Khorasani.

Commenting on the matter while responding to a question on rising terrorism in Pakistan emanating from Afghanistan, FM Jilani told Dawn.com: “It was an isolated incident and we don’t think it had their (Afghan government) sanction.”

The foreign minister later reiterated his stance and said ongoing dialogue with the Afghan government on surging militancy was “very positive”.

FO calls for international attention on weapons in Afghanistan

Separately, Foreign Office (FO) Spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch voiced apprehension about the “large amount of weaponry” available in Afghanistan and in the possession of terrorist entities, adding that it posed a threat to Pakistan.

Her statement comes two days after White House National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communication John Kirby disagreed with the impression that the United States had left behind about $7 billion worth of weapons in Afghanistan and militant groups were now using those weapons against Pakistan. Instead, he had said the equipment was transferred to and belonged to the Afghan National Army.

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar had recently said that the US leaving behind equipment of war in the war-torn country had a greater role in the recent surge in militancy than the Taliban coming to power in Kabul.

During a weekly press briefing in Islamabad today, Baloch was questioned about the discrepancy in Kirby’s remarks and Pakistan’s perspective that the weapons were Nato and US leftovers, to which she refrained from commenting on.

“With regard to the arms in Afghanistan, we are concerned that the large amount of weaponry that is available in Afghanistan and has now reached some terrorist entities as well, continues to pose a threat to Pakistan, especially when these terrorist entities attack Pakistani civilian and military targets,” Baloch said.

She added that the FO did not want to “assign blame” to anyone but “the situation needs international attention”.

The FO spokesperson hoped that all “relevant parties” would understand their responsibility in this respect.

She said Pakistan was concerned about the Chitral incident, adding that it had shared its concerns regarding the “terrorist threat against Pakistan that emanates from the Afghan soil” with the interim Afghan government and the dialogue would continue.

“All these concerns and developments are relevant to the opening or closure of the border as well,” she said while responding to a question on the closure of the Torkham border after clashes between Pakistan and Afghanistan border forces, leading to a build-up of trucks laden with goods. 

 

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