Pakistan Army Rejects Afghan Terror Charges
FILE - A Pakistan army soldier stands guard in the Pakistani tribal area of Khyber near the Torkham border post between Pakistan and Afghanistan, June 15, 2016.
Pakistan's military said Tuesday that it was not involved in acts of terrorism in neighboring Afghanistan and called on Afghan forces to boost security on their side of a largely porous 2,600-kilometer border between the two countries.
Kabul accuses Pakistani security institutions of maintaining covert ties to the Taliban and allowing the insurgent group to use sanctuaries in Pakistan to plot violence in Afghanistan.
At a news conference at the General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor rejected the allegations.
"Pakistan will never allow its soil to be used against any country," he asserted, saying his country desired peace in Afghanistan and had been making all possible efforts to promote Afghan peace and stability.
Ghafoor insisted that years of counterterrorism operations in areas near the Afghan border had eliminated all sanctuaries and most of the terrorists there had been killed, while those remaining had fled and taken refuge in Afghanistan because of an absence of troops on the other side.
Pakistan has also built new outposts, military forts and border crossings to deter terrorist infiltration and expects Afghanistan to take similar steps to enable the two countries to effectively fight terrorism, the army spokesman said.
Afghans urged to step up
"What we have to do on our side of the border, we have done it and we will keep doing it," Ghafoor said. "Afghanistan has to take certain actions, and we are in coordination [and contact] with the Afghan leadership that they require to take certain measures on their side of the border."
Ghafoor said Pakistan had deployed about 200,000 troops in recent years for securing the border with Afghanistan and helping internationally backed peace efforts in the neighboring country.
He reiterated concerns that fugitive militants hiding in Afghanistan threatened Pakistani counterterrorism gains, forcing Islamabad to maintain the current troop presence on the western border, instead of reducing it.
"The strategic threat still resides across the [Afghan] border," Ghafoor said, adding that as long as that condition continued, "we will have to keep a level of presence along the western border."
For their part, Afghan leaders maintain that while Pakistani security operations have targeted anti-state militants, they have spared leaders and commanders of the Taliban and its close ally, the Haqqani terrorist network, and continue to stage deadly attacks in Afghanistan from safe havens in Pakistan.
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