ISLAMABAD (AP) – Pakistan’s political and military leaders vowed on Monday that no nation will be allowed to harbor militants who are staging attacks on the country – an apparent reference to neighboring Afghanistan.
The statement came amid a surge in attacks by Pakistani Taliban militants, many of whom are hiding in neighboring Afghanistan. Attacks are increasing across Pakistan, particularly in the northwest near the Afghan border.
The announcement came at the end of a long session of Pakistan’s National Security Committee attended by Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, newly appointed army chief General Asim Munir and other officials.
According to a government statement, the committee pledged that there would be “zero tolerance of terrorism in Pakistan” and that militants would be fought with the “full force of the state”.
The announcement came two weeks after Pakistani special forces killed more than two dozen detainees linked to the Pakistani Taliban in a raid after overpowering guards at an anti-terrorist center in the northwest and killing three hostages. Before the rescue operation began, the detainees had demanded safe passage to Afghanistan, a demand the government refused.
The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, are separate from, but allied with, the Afghan Taliban. The Afghan Taliban took power last year as US and NATO troops were in the final weeks of their withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war.
The takeover of Afghanistan emboldened TTP fighters, who have stepped up their attacks on Pakistani security forces since November, when they unilaterally ended a months-long ceasefire with the Pakistani government. Rising militant violence has strained relations between the Taliban rulers of Pakistan and Afghanistan, who negotiated the ceasefire in May.