Afghanistan’s acting defense minister said on Sunday that the Taliban government would not tolerate “invasions” from its neighbors following protests against airstrikes allegedly carried out by neighboring Pakistan.
The comments come after the Taliban government blamed Pakistan for airstrikes that have left dozens dead in Kunar and Khost provinces, officials say.
Pakistan, which has not confirmed any involvement in airstrikes within Afghanistan’s borders, said the two countries are “brother countries”.
“We are facing problems and challenges from both the world and our neighbors, the clear example being their invasion of our territory in Kunar,” said Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob, acting Afghan defense minister, at a ceremony in Kabul to commemorate the anniversary of the death of his father, Taliban founder Mullah Mohammad Omar.
“We cannot tolerate the invasion. We tolerated that attack. We tolerated that because of national interests, next time we may not tolerate it,” he said.
The spokesman for Pakistan’s foreign ministry, when asked to comment on Yaqoob’s comments, said Pakistan hoped for a long-term cooperation with Afghanistan to bring about peace.
“Pakistan and Afghanistan are brotherly countries. The governments and peoples of both countries view terrorism as a serious threat and have suffered from this scourge for a long time… therefore it is important that our two countries participate in a meaningful way through relevant institutional channels to cooperate in countering cross-border terrorism and taking action against terrorist groups on their territory,” the spokesperson said.
The Taliban government’s foreign ministry last week summoned the Pakistani ambassador to protest the strikes. Local officials said the attacks by Pakistani military helicopters killed 36 people.
The head of the United Nations children’s agency in Afghanistan said 20 children were killed in airstrikes in Khost and Kunar on April 16.
Since the Taliban took over Afghanistan in August, there have been numerous standoffs along the 2,600km border with Pakistan – drawn by British colonial rulers and disputed by Kabul.
The Pakistani military, increasingly frustrated by the ongoing attacks, has stepped up operations along the Afghan border in recent months.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)