“We call on Pakistan to immediately arrest or expel the Taliban’s leaders and prevent the group from using Pakistani territory to support its operations,” White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said at the top of her daily briefing, condemning the terrorist attack on a Kabul Hotel over the weekend.
The US believes that Pakistani authorities provide sanctuaries to terrorist organizations. Both countries have had a rift over the issues that soured since President Trump announced Afghan policy last August.
“In Afghanistan, where terrorists attacked a hotel in Kabul, such attacks on civilians only strengthen our resolve to support our Afghan partners,” Sanders said.
“We commend the swift and effective response of the Afghan security forces. Afghan forces, with our support, will continue to relentlessly pursue the enemies of Afghanistan, who also seek to export terror around the world,” she said.
An hour after the White House called upon Pakistan to “expel and arrest” Taliban leaders, Pakistani ambassador to the US claimed his country had already evicted them and their facilities and threw an “open challenge” to anyone who could point to surviving safe havens.
Pakistani ambassador to the United States, Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said his country’s military forces had “cleaned out” all terrorists, their “hideouts and sanctuaries and their IED (improvised explosive devices) factories” from Pakistan in operations since 2014 and “when somebody turns around and tells us that there are safe havens existing there we say to them please show us where”.
“It’s an open challenge,” the envoy added. “It’s been 10 months or so we have been saying please show us we will ourselves like to eliminate (them) if someone is hiding in any caves in Pakistan.” The reference to “10 months” was possibly to the length of the ambassador’s tenure in DC after assuming office in March 2017.
This comes as Afghan officials have always stressed on pressing Pakistan to eradicate terrorism from its soil.
“The United States knows that where is the terrorist groups’ main territory and because of that put pressures on Pakistan,” said Muhammad Radmanish, deputy spokesman of the Ministry of Defense.
At least 18 people including 14 foreigners were killed and ten others were wounded in Taliban attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul after 16 hours siege.
The Taliban released a statement claiming responsibility and saying it was carried out by five assailants who have been armed with suicide vests targeted foreigners and Afghan officials.