Taliban Rejects Besham Attack, Blames Pakistan

Mujahid said that targeting the Chinese nationals is Pakistan’s matter and has nothing to do with Afghanistan….reports Hamza Ameer

The Afghan Taliban has taken less than 24 hours to backtrack from its earlier commitment to help Pakistan apprehend the perpetrators behind the terror attack targeting a bus carrying Chinese engineers in Besham city.

“We have no connection to the terror attack in which five Chinese engineers were killed on March 26,” Kabul has said.

Afghan Taliban has also turned down Islamabad’s request for assistance in the ongoing investigation into the Besham attack.

“They (Pakistan) are trying to create a rift between Kabul and Beijing. The Besham episode has nothing to do with Afghanistan. It is Pakistan which should ensure its own security,” said Afghan Taliban Spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid.

Mujahid said that targeting the Chinese nationals is Pakistan’s matter and has nothing to do with Afghanistan.

“The report published by Pakistan is an attempt to create distrust between China and Afghanistan. We have repeatedly denied this. It is also illogical,” he said.

Kabul’s rejection comes within 24 hours of Pakistan stating that the Afghan administration is ready to assist and work with Islamabad to take the investigation forward.

Earlier, Pakistan’s Interior Secretary Muhammad Khurram Agha had travelled to Kabul, carrying a message from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif for the Taliban administration.

Diplomatic sources confirmed that Agha had a detailed meeting with Interim Afghan Deputy Interior Minister Muhammad Nabi Omari as Pakistan shared evidence in reference to the Besham attack of Chinese engineers, maintaining that there are clear links between the Besham attack and the Afghanistan territory.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office also issued a statement, highlighting that the Afghan side has agreed to examine the findings of the investigation and expressed its resolve to work with Pakistan to take the investigation forward and to its logical conclusion.

“The Afghan side reiterated its commitment to prevent the use of their soil for any terrorist activity against other countries, including Pakistan,” the statement said.

Pakistan claims that the suspects involved in the Besham attack have been identified and the evidence has been shared with Kabul demanding the arrest of culprits.

Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, Spokesperson of the Pakistan Foreign Office, confirmed Kabul’s commitment over the matter on Friday.

“We have been engaged with each other to ensure that the Afghan territory is not used to create trouble in Pakistan. The Afghan authorities have reaffirmed their commitment to ensure that Afghan territory will not be used against third countries including Pakistan,” she said during the weekly press briefing.

Experts say that the Afghan Taliban cannot afford to concede Pakistan’s claims and wants to maintain its relationship with China without the Islamabad connection.

“Afghanistan wants to keep its relation with China completely separate from its terms with Pakistan. The Afghan Taliban will never agree to Pakistan’s claims. Even if they do agree partially, it would take them no time to backtrack from the commitment because they will never take action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group that is part of their armour,” said strategic expert Kamran Yousaf.

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