In Pak-Afghan spat, Islamabad has right to defend itself from terrorism: US spokesperson

by IANS |

New York, Jan 4 (IANS) Regarding Islamabad's National Security Committee's (NSC) warning of action against Afghanistan, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said that Pakistan has a right to defend itself against terrorism.

He said on Tuesday: "We're aware of the recent statement by the Pakistani National Security Committee. The Pakistani people have suffered tremendously from terrorist attacks. Pakistan has a right to defend itself from terrorism."

Price was replying to a question at his daily briefing about what is seen as a threat to Afghanistan in the NSC statement on Monday that "no country will be allowed to provide sanctuaries and facilitation to terrorists and Pakistan reserves all rights in that respect to safeguard her people".

Islamabad has complained about cross-border terrorist attacks by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from bases in Afghanistan protected by the Taliban regime in Kabul.

Price said that the Afghan Taliban has been "unable or unwilling" to fulfil its commitment to not allow its territory to be used for terrorism.

The US calls "on the Taliban to uphold the very commitment they have made to see to it that Afghan soil is never again used as a launchpad for international terrorist attacks", he said.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah also hinted during a TV programme that Islamabad was planning strikes on TTP bases in Afghanistan, according to Dawn newspaper.

Afghanistan's Taliban regime, which had been supported by Pakistan, denied Sanaullah's allegations that it was sheltering the TTP and asserted that he was being "provocative".

A Doha-based Taliban official Ahmad Yasir taunted Pakistan in a tweet reminding it of the surrender of nearly 100,000 of its military personnel to India during the 1971 Bangladesh War.

He tweeted: "It's Afghanistan, which is the graveyard of empires. Never think of a military attack on us, or else you may end up with the embarrassing repeat of the agreement with India."

About the restrictions that the Taliban placed on women last month barring them from higher education and from working for non-governmental organisations, Price said that the US was discussing internally and with allies "very specific consequences" for the Afghan regime.

He said: "We have said repeatedly that there will be a response from the US. We're going to continue to coordinate closely. We'll share additional details on that when we have."

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