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Afghan-Pak rift widens after deadly Peshawar suicide bombing

By Rahul Kumar
New Delhi, Feb 2: The reverberations from Pakistan’s suicide blast that killed 101 worshippers, mostly policemen, in a Peshawar mosque this Monday are echoing across the border.

The Acting Foreign Minister of the Taliban government in Kabul, Amir Khan Muttaqi has said that Pakistan should not try to blame Afghanistan, its western neighbour, for the devastating attack.

Using the Peshawar blast as a background to absolve Afghanistan of any terror-related allegations, Muttaqi reiterated that Afghanistan does not hold any terrorist base in Afghanistan and will not allow its soil to be used against other countries.

Tolo News reported Muttaqi as saying: “We ask Pakistan’s ministers to not throw the snow of their own roofs onto the roofs of others. They should consider their problems in their own country. We advise them to look into the Peshawar explosion in great detail.” He invited Islamabad to cooperate with Kabul instead of criticising it.

The Afghan foreign minister added: “If terrorism existed in Afghanistan, it may then spread to China, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Iran. Today, when they are secure, Afghanistan is also secure and it appears that it does not exist here.”

Muttaqi was responding to Pakistani interior minister Rana Sanaullah’s speech in the parliament that terrorists are present in Pakistan’s neighbouring countries. On the other hand, Pakistan has been trying hard to portray the Taliban-led Afghanistan as a haven for terrorists, even warning Kabul that it would attack Afghanistan in pursuit of terrorists.

This is the second time in exactly a month that Afghanistan has responded to the Pakistani interior minister with disdain. In January this year, Afghanistan’s Ministry of National Defence had said that it considers as “provocative and baseless recent speeches of the Pakistani Interior Minister about the presence of (TTP) in Afghanistan and their (Pakistan’s) possible attack inside Afghanistan.”

Tensions bubble on the entire length of the Pakistani western border from Afghanistan to Iran.

Considerable friction has been reported in 2022 on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan that touches Khyber Pakhtunkhwa with the Pashtuns not accepting the Durand Line and due to the activities of the TTP that has been carrying out audacious attacks on Pakistani security agencies.

Similarly, Pakistan’s border in Balochistan province which runs along both Afghanistan and Iran too is rife with violence due to the movement of armed Baloch nationalists. The sanctity of this border, called the Goldsmith Line, too is not accepted by the Baloch masses and the rebels.

Relations between the neighbours have been spiralling down after the Taliban toppled the democratically-elected government of President Ashraf Ghani in August 2021. From staunch friends the Taliban and the Pakistani government have turned hostile as the Taliban seeks to assert its independence after the formation of the government in Kabul.

Acting Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani cautioned the world to stop bearing ill-will toward the Afghan people. Criticising the international community’s economic sanctions on Afghanistan, he warned: “Don’t turn your back on Afghans with such extreme relations, don’t seek revenge from Afghans, we proved it on the battlefield and now we have left that field.”

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