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‘No Cooperation from Afghanistan’

by AFP
Farooq Naeem—AFP

Farooq Naeem—AFP

Pakistan Army spokesman says neighboring country has not taken action against militants on its territory.

The Pakistan Army complained Wednesday that Afghanistan had failed to cooperate with its ongoing offensive against Taliban militants in the countries’ shared border area.

Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Maulana Fazlullah was “operating freely” from across the border in the Afghan provinces of Kunar and Nuristan.

Pakistan launched Operation Zarb-e-Azb in June against militant hideouts North Waziristan, which borders Afghanistan, but Bajwa said the Afghans had refused requests for help. “We did not get cooperation from Afghanistan that we were expecting before launching the Zarb-e-Azab operation,” Bajwa told a press conference. “We had asked them to dislodge the terrorists, intercept them, kill them or hand over to us, but they [Afghans] were not forthcoming in this cooperation.”

Relations between the two neighbors are often testy, with both sides accusing the other of either failing to deal effectively with militants or of supporting them outright.

More than 1,100 militants and 100 soldiers have been killed since the start of the long-awaited operation against the Taliban strongholds, Bajwa said. He added that more than 100 militants have surrendered. It is difficult to independently verify the Pakistan Army’s numbers because journalists do not have regular access to the conflict zones.

Bajwa also said that most of the important areas of North Waziristan had been cleared of militants and described the operation as progressing “successfully.” But he complained that Afghan inaction was undermining the operation and the Pakistani military was concerned at militants “roaming freely” over the border.

“Had we received the cooperation of Afghanistan, the effect of the operation would have been much better,” he said.

North Waziristan was a major base for the TTP and Al Qaeda linked militants, and Washington pressed for years for action deal with the hideouts, which insurgents used as rear posts for attacks on NATO forces in Afghanistan. U.S.-led combat forces in Afghanistan are pulling out after 13 years of war against the Afghan Taliban, leaving local forces to deal with the still resilient insurgency.

Kunar and Nuristan, where the TTP chief is believed to be hiding, are among the war-torn country’s most unstable provinces.

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