PESHAWAR, KABUL: Pakistan on Sunday urged Afghanistan to step up security and prevent cross-border attacks, a day after authorities in Kabul issued a warning over alleged airstrikes by the Pakistani military on Afghan territory.
Since the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan in August, border tensions between the neighboring countries have risen, with Pakistan alleging militant groups were carrying out attacks from Afghan soil.
The tensions escalated after Saturday’s airstrikes, which according to local residents and media reports killed at least 45 people in the Afghan provinces of Khost and Kunar near the Pakistan border.
Kabul said that the rocket attacks were carried out by Pakistan, which Islamabad did not confirm. Pakistani authorities said that in the last few days militant attacks along the Pakistani-Afghan border had significantly increased.
“Pakistani security forces are being targeted from across the border,” Pakistan Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar said in a statement.
“Pakistan requests the government of Afghanistan to secure the Pakistan-Afghan Border region and take stern actions against the individuals involved in terrorist activities in Pakistan, in the interest of peace and progress of the two brotherly countries.”
The statement comes a day after Taliban authorities summoned Pakistan’s ambassador in Kabul and condemned the attacks, which they said affected bilateral relations.
“All military violations including that in Khost and Kunar must be prevented as such acts deteriorate relations between the two countries, allowing antagonists to misuse the situation leading to undesired consequences,” Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said during the meeting with the Pakistani envoy.
Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said Kabul was exploring “all possible ways to make sure such things are not repeated and that Afghanistan’s sovereignty is respected.
“Afghans have proved themselves in defending their land, and the defeat of the Americans is a great evidence for that … we expect the Pakistani side to be more sensible and to not test Afghans’ patience or otherwise the results will be negative.”
Saturday’s attacks have already sparked protests as residents in Khost took to the streets chanting anti-Pakistan slogans.
Experts warned that border tensions are a threat to Afghanistan-Pakistan relations and pose a test to the Taliban administration.
“This is a serious threat to the new Afghan government. Even if Pakistan has their reasons for launching the attacks, this is in no way justifiable,” Dr. Rahmatullah Zahid, a professor from Syed Jamaluddin Afghan University in Kunar province, told Arab News.
The attacks, according to political analyst Faiz Zaland from Kabul University, could further increase mutual mistrust.
“This will only give opportunity to forces who want to exploit tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” he said.