Defence Minister Khawaja Asif suggests crossing the border to hunt TTP

Amid a surge in terror incidents, which Pakistan attributes to the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leadership hiding in Afghanistan, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif hinted at the possibility of cross-border strikes to eliminate militant hideouts in the neighboring country.

The defence minister’s statement coincided with Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s warning about the deteriorating security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. The JUI-F chief expressed concerns that armed men had made it unsafe even for police to venture out at night.

In an interview with Voice of America, Khawaja Asif stated that Islamabad could conduct strikes on terror havens in Afghanistan, justifying it on grounds that Kabul has been “exporting” terrorism to Pakistan and harboring the perpetrators.

He acknowledged that while the TTP operates from Afghanistan, its cadre, numbering a few thousand, also operate within Pakistan. Asif criticized the PTI government for allegedly facilitating the return of these militants.

The defence minister ruled out dialogue with the banned outfit, citing irreconcilable differences.

Regarding ‘Azm-i-Istehkam’, Asif assured that parliament and political parties would be consulted, addressing their concerns. He blamed civilians for failing to capitalize on past military successes against militants.

In remarks to Geo News, Asif emphasized stringent enforcement of international laws at the Afghan border to curb smuggling and terrorist infiltration. He outlined measures requiring all Afghan traffic into Pakistan to possess valid passports and visas.

Meanwhile, Maulana Fazlur Rehman opposed the government’s stance, likening it to handling issues with Iran through air strikes, and criticized rushing to resolve issues with Afghanistan through emotional responses rather than diplomatic channels.

Speaking on KP’s situation, he highlighted increased militant activity, roadblocks, and toll collection by armed groups, restricting police operations to their stations at night. Fazlur Rehman also criticized delays in compensating tribes affected by military operations in the region.

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