- Asif said that the TTP is using US-left light guns, assault rifles, ammunition, night vision goggles, and sniper rifles.
- Asif questioned Washington's ability to fight terrorism or the need to ask for its help to fight terrorism in Pakistan.
Khawaja Asif, Pakistan’s defense minister, said that Islamabad has told the Afghan Taliban that if Kabul can’t stop anti-Pakistan militants, Islamabad will strike terrorist hideouts inside Afghanistan.
Khawaja Asif told Voice of America in an interview that when he went to Kabul in the middle of February, he reminded the Taliban leaders of their cross-border security agreements that say terrorists can’t use their land to attack Pakistan, and that if they don’t, Islamabad will take action.
“If that isn’t done, at some point we’ll have to… resort to some measures,” he said. “We’ll have to hit them wherever they are, including their safe houses on Afghan soil.” He added, “We’ll have to hit them because we can’t stand this for long.”
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August 2021, there has been a rise in terror strikes planned and carried out by Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has ties to the Afghan Taliban, al-Qaida, and the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K).
Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, a think tank in Islamabad, says that the country had at least 262 terror acts in 2022, of which at least 89 were caused by the TTP.
After talks with Islamabad broke down in November, the group stopped a cease-fire on its own. Since then, there have been attacks almost every day in Pakistan, and most of them have been on military and police officers.
When asked if he thought Kabul’s claim that the TTP doesn’t operate from Afghanistan, Asif said, “They still operate from their soil.”
The minister said that the Taliban leaders “responded very well” to the latest warning. Asif said that he thinks the Afghan Taliban are trying to “disentangle” themselves from the TTP.
The minister also attacked former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and the previous military and intelligence leaders for letting thousands of Taliban fighters and their families come back to Pakistan so that talks with the militants could continue. Intelligence reports said that the choice gave terrorists a chance to get back together.
The Pakistani government and security forces say that the TTP fighters who are fighting Pakistan are using weapons and equipment that US troops left behind when they left Afghanistan after a 20-year war.
Asif said that the TTP is using US-left light guns, assault rifles, ammunition, night vision goggles, and sniper rifles.
When asked if Pakistan had given any evidence to Washington, Asif said, “Washington left that kind of hardware on foreign soil because they couldn’t carry it.”
Asif questioned Washington’s ability to fight terrorism or the need to ask for its help to fight terrorism in Pakistan. He did this by bringing up the fact that the Taliban are back in power in Afghanistan after fighting US and allied troops for 20 years.
“I don’t see how that makes sense,” he said. Asif said, “From my point of view, we can handle this threat on our own.”