Afghan commander orders attacks on insurgents in Pakistan
By CARLO MUNOZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 22, 2014
KABUL, Afghanistan — The police chief in Afghanistan’s southern province of Kandahar has ordered his forces to attack Pakistani-based Tehrik-i-Taliban insurgents inside Pakistan, adding fuel to rising tensions along the countries’ shared border.
Police Brig. Gen. Abdul Raziq issued the order Friday, informing senior officials at the ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs in Kabul of his plans, Kandahar police spokesman Ahmad Zia Durrani said Monday. The move will be a “kick in the teeth” to Taliban and other insurgent groups based in Pakistan looking to strike inside Afghanistan, Durrani added.
Government officials in Kabul did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Raziq’s move came as Islamabad and Kabul are set to discuss coordinated military actions against the terrorists’ hideouts along the porous, mountainous border between the two nations.
Last week, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif threatened to send Pakistani troops into Afghan territory to kill or capture terrorist leaders responsible for the bloody attack Dec. 16 on a Pakistani military school. The massacre at the Army Public School and College in Peshawar, in which 149 people perished, was the deadliest terrorist attack in the country’s history.
Pakistan claims to have captured several suspects tied to the Peshawar attack, but has not provided details on the number of arrests made or the identities of those taken into custody.
Durrani said Afghan border policemen were “continuously complaining of attacks” on their outposts from inside Pakistan. Tents used by the insurgents to mount their assaults were clearly visible inside Pakistani territory just 300 meters from the border, he added.
During a tour of the region last week, Raziq ordered Afghan troops to attack the camps and directed them to respond if other targets on the Pakistani side of the border present themselves, Durrani said.
“We destroyed all those tents with heavy machine-gun fire,” the spokesman said, but made clear that at no time did Afghan forces set foot on Pakistani soil.
It is not the first time the controversial Kandahar police commander has called for direct strikes against Taliban bases inside Pakistan. Since taking control of the restive province in southern Afghanistan, Raziq has faced multiple accusations of leading unsanctioned cross-border raids into Pakistan.
His willingness to pursue insurgents on both sides of the border made Raziq a favorite among U.S. and NATO commanders. But critics claim that coalition forces also turned a blind eye to allegations of corruption and human rights abuses in the region as a result of the campaign.
Islamabad reportedly intercepted communications from Tehrik-i-Taliban commander Umar Naray from across the border in Afghanistan showing that he coordinated the school attack. In an emergency visit to Kabul last week, Pakistani Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raheel Sharif requested Kabul’s support in joint operations to capture Mullah Fazlullah, head of the Pakistan Taliban, who is also reported to be hiding in northeastern Afghanistan.
Zubair Babakarkhail contributed to this report.