Pakistan has issued a stern warning to Afghanistan’s brutal religious leaders to stop harboring home-grown Pakistani Taliban militants who are carrying out increasingly deadly attacks.
The warning came after Afghan reports on Friday night Pakistani planes carried out bombings in the eastern Afghan provinces of Khost and Kunar, killing civilians.
Pakistan has so far declined to comment on the reports, instead accusing the Taliban of doing nothing to stop militant attacks on Pakistan in Afghanistan.
“Terrorists are using Afghan land with impunity to carry out activities inside Pakistan,” the foreign ministry said in a statement that was unusually clear in language.
Pakistan has often been accused of harboring Afghan Taliban fighters before they came to power last August when Western allies ended the 20-year war.
Since their capture, Islamabad has become a leader in putting pressure on the world to engage with the Afghan religious government.
However, it is unclear whether Pakistan’s new prime minister, Shehbaz Sharif, will support the Taliban as much as his predecessor, Imran Khan, a cricket star who became the leader of conservative Islamists who was ousted last weekend as a result of a politically violent no-confidence vote.
On Saturday, the Taliban’s foreign ministry summoned Pakistan’s ambassador to complain about civilians killed in Friday’s bombings.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahideen warned Pakistan “not to test the patience of Afghans on such issues and not to repeat the same mistake, otherwise it will have bad consequences.”
Afghanistan’s largest news channel, TOLO News, showed images of the bodies of children who he said were killed in an airstrike.
The same channel showed protests by hundreds of residents of the eastern province of Khost, condemning Pakistan and shouting anti-Pakistani slogans.
Pakistan has not confirmed any attacks on Afghanistan, and Sunday’s statement blames Taliban leaders for doing too little to stop Pakistani Taliban militants who use its territory to attack Pakistan.
“In the last few days, incidents on the Pak-Afghanistan border have increased significantly, making Pakistani security forces a target from abroad,” Pakistan said in a statement.
Last week, seven Pakistani soldiers were killed in an ambush near the border, which was later demanded by the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-i-Taliban-Pakistan, or TTP.
Militant attacks in Pakistan are accelerating after the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan.
The TTP or a branch of the Islamic State group, which is also headquartered in Afghanistan but against which the Taliban is fighting, claimed responsibility for the attacks.
By the end of March this year, Pakistan had survived 52 militant attacks compared to 35 in the same period last year, according to Amir Ran, executive director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, an independent think tank that monitors militant activities in Pakistan.
The attacks also became more deadly. This year, 155 people died in Pakistan as a result of such incidents, compared to 68 last year.
The border between the two countries, known as the Durand Line, runs 2,670 kilometers.
The Durranda line runs through the region’s ethnic Pashtun population, often dividing tribes and families between the two countries.
Founded by the British in the 19th century, Afghan rulers refused to recognize it as an official border, instead claiming Pakistani territory known as Khyber Pukhtunhva province, which is dominated by ethnic Pashtuns.
Since coming to power, the Afghan Taliban has repeatedly clashed with Pakistan through a border fence being built by Islamabad.