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ISLAMABAD: A day after deadly cross-border attacks in Chitral and Torkham, Pakistan expressed serious concerns over the large amount of weaponry reaching some terrorist entities in Afghanistan, believed to be leftover by the NATO and Afghan National Army and asked the Afghan interim government to fulfil its obligation and deny the use of its soil for cross-border terrorism.

Pakistan also summoned a senior Afghan diplomat, on Friday, to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and strong protest was lodged with him over the cross-border terrorist attack in Chitral and the firing at Torkham border crossing.

“Demarche was made with the senior Afghan diplomat and it was conveyed that the terrorism emanating from Afghanistan is in no one’s interest in the region. It was also demanded that the Afghan authorities should investigate the incidents of terrorism emanating from Afghanistan and ensure that no such incident occurs in future,” informed sources told Business Recorder.

Responding to media queries during her weekly press briefing, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said that Pakistan has conveyed its concerns about the latest incident to the interim Afghan authorities. “We expect them to fulfil their obligations and to deny the use of Afghan soil by the terrorists for perpetuating acts of terrorism against Pakistan,” she emphasized.

She further said that the security forces of Pakistan are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and “the sacrifices of our soldiers further strengthen our resolve”. “The government and people of Pakistan will continue to defend them against the terrorist threat whether home-grown or sponsored from abroad,” the spokesperson added.

On Thursday, the ISPR said that four soldiers of the Pakistan army were martyred and 12 terrorists killed when a large group of terrorists equipped with the latest weapons attacked two military posts located close to the Afghanistan border in Chitral district’s general area of Kalash.

“Terrorists’ movement and concentration in Gawardesh, Pitigal, Barg-i-Matal and Batash areas of Nuristan and Kunar provinces of Afghanistan had already been picked up and were timely shared with Interim Afghan Government… The valiant soldiers fought bravely and repulsed the attacks inflicting heavy casualties on the terrorists,” the ISPR said in a statement.

The Afghanistan-based banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Commenting on US National Security Council’s spokesman John Kirby’s statement that weapons worth $7 billion in Afghanistan are the leftovers of the Afghan National Army not by the US, Baloch expressed Pakistan’s concerns over the large quantity of weaponry that is available in Afghanistan. “It (leftover weaponry) has now reached some terrorist entities, as well; it continues to pose a threat to Pakistan, especially when these terrorist entities attack Pakistani civilian and military targets,” she said.

Without pointing a finger at any country, she stated: “We do not want to assign blame on anyone but the situation needs international attention. We hope all relevant parties would understand the responsibility that they have in this respect.”

Responding to another query, she said that Pakistan and the United States have a robust dialogue, in multiple areas, including on security and counterterrorism matters.

“We have been communicating with the United States and other partners both in the region and outside the region about Pakistan’s security concerns and our threat perception. We hope that all our friends and partners will understand security compulsions that Pakistan has in this region, including the threat of terrorism and the security situation because of the aggressive posture from our eastern neighbours vis-à-vis Pakistan,” she added.

About the closure of Torkham border, she said that Pakistan believes that the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan should be a border of peace and amity between the two countries.

For generations, she added that it has facilitated an exchange of trade and people across the border on both sides.

“In that respect, if there is a closure of border from the Pakistan side, it is not because Pakistan wishes to create difficulties for traders and genuine visitors. It happens only when there is a grave security risk and we have to factor in those security considerations whenever the decision to open or close the border takes place,” she said.

She added that Pakistan’s relevant authorities are in contact with the Afghan authorities to whom the country’s concerns have already been conveyed on the security threat that Pakistan faces and the concerns about the recent incident that took place.

To another question about the Special Investment Facilitation Council (SIFC), she said that Pakistan has invited its friends and partners, including the Gulf countries, to come and invest in Pakistan.

“In the context of SIFC, which has recently been established, we are in contact with all our friends and partners for future investment projects,” she said.

Asked if Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman will be visiting Pakistan, she said: “We are not in a position to make any announcement at this stage. Once such a visit is confirmed we will make the announcement.”

About Pakistan-Russia ties, she said that Pakistan and Russia have an important relationship and the two countries have been discussing matters relating to trade and economic cooperation including in the realm of energy and the dialogue will continue.

“Pakistan invested in this relationship in the last two decades. We now have a robust dialogue with Russia and over the last several months a number of delegations have been exchanged between the two countries,” she added.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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