Pakistan may conduct a counterterrorist operation in Afghanistan if the Afghan authorities fail to tackle terrorist threat, Pakistani Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari has said.
“Regarding Pakistan going there [in Afghanistan] and taking action against these terrorists, we do not want to be forced to do this, but according to international law, we have the right to self-defense,” Bhutto-Zardari said on Tuesday, as quoted by the Geo broadcaster, adding “if we are repeatedly attacked like this, and there is no appropriate response, we will be forced to do this. But I don’t think it should be amongst the first options for us.”
He also noted that the Taliban (under UN sanctions for terrorism), in accordance with the 2020 agreement they signed with the United States in Doha, committed to preventing militants and terrorist from operating in Afghanistan or staging attacks against other countries from its territory. Pakistan’s top diplomat urged the Afghan authorities to act accordingly.
“If they [the Taliban] need any help, then I think Pakistan should be prepared to help them. Our preference will be that we want the officials there, the interim government, to act against them,” he said.
Bhutto-Zardari’s remarks were made amid the growing number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies estimated that 54 militant attacks took place in the country last month, which killed 77 civilians and 37 law enforcement officers and injured 181 civilians and 36 officers. The most recent attack, which killed 54 people, occurred on Sunday in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.