Pakistan and Afghanistan have engaged in a fresh war of words over the recent move by the army to launch a ground offensive in Rajgal Valley of Khyber Agency to counter the potential threat posed by terrorist groups including Da’ish.
The operation codenamed Khyber-4, according to the army, was initiated to clear one of the last two pockets in the tribal areas from terrorists.
The latest campaign is not only aimed at local militant groups but also targeting Da’ish, which could use the rugged and difficult terrain to set its foothold in Pakistan by infiltrating from the neighbouring Afghanistan.
Rajgal Valley shares the border with Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province, which is considered a stronghold of Dai’sh.
Reacting to the development, Afghan Ministry of Defence said Kabul was not taken into confidence before the start of Khyber-4.
The ministry’s statement also said operation should be launched what it called in terrorist centers located in Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and Quetta under the monitoring of US and China.
Operation Khyber-4: Offensive launched to deny Da’ish foothold in FATA
“Military operations need to be launched in both sides of the Durand Line. Everyone understands the terrorist centers are located in Pakistan; Quetta Council, Peshawar Council and Miranshah Council that are Taliban groups,” said Dawlat Waziri, spokesman of MoD.
The statement claimed that Afghanistan agreed with a proposal to conduct joint raids with Pakistan along the border, monitored and coordinated by the United States.
However, the Afghan official insisted that no coordination was made between the two countries.
Pakistan Army strongly rebutted the Afghan claim calling it as unwarranted and said such assertions ran contrary to Pakistan Army’s efforts for better Pak-Afghan coordination and cooperation.
“The information about Operation Khyber-4 has been shared (twice verbally and in written) with Afghan Forces as well as Resolute Support Mission, and ODRP,” said the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a statement on Wednesday.
“Pakistan Army looks forward for trust based security coordination and cooperation for fight against common enemy,” the statement added.
It further said rhetoric of blames and suggestive allegations were agenda of forces working against order and peace in the region which should be avoided.
At the news briefing last Sunday, Major General Asif Ghafoor, Director General ISPR, clarified that there were no agreements between the two countries regarding joint operations.
DG ISPR explained that as per the understanding, the two countries along with the US resolute mission were to coordinate and cooperate with each other for anti-terror campaigns.
He said as part of that understanding, Pakistan informed Afghanistan about the start of Khyber-4 in the hope that security forces of the neighbouring country would also undertake similar campaign on their side of the border.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have been struggling to normalize their ties despite recent efforts.
The lingering strain in ties is believed to stem from the differences on how to deal with militant groups operating along their shared border.
The two countries have repeatedly accused the other for turning a blind eye to the problem and using certain militant outfits as proxies against each other.
Pakistan believes that the current administration in Kabul is working under the heavy influence of India, which never wanted to see improved ties between the two neighbors.
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