The Taliban-led government in Afghanistan on Friday warned Pakistan that any incursion into its territory will have serious consequences, a day after Pakistan defence minister Khawaja Asif warned that Pakistan can target sanctuaries of the outlawed terrorist group TTP in Afghanistan under a newly launched so-called military operation against terrorism.

“Afghanistan warns that any incursion into our territory, regardless of the pretext or guise, will bear serious consequences and the violators will be held accountable,” the Afghanistan Defence Force warned.

“The latest statement by Pakistan’s defence minister regarding the potential violation of Afghanistan’s national sovereignty is both unwise and an attempt to muddy the waters, which benefits no one. Pakistan’s leadership should refrain from making such sensitive statements on critical issues,” it said in a statement.

The government announced the launch of ‘Operation Azm-i-Istehkam’ last week to tackle the rising threat of terrorism in the wake of lukewarm support by the Afghan Taliban to stop the use of their soil by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) rebels against Pakistan.

In an interview with the Voice of America, Asif said that the decision to launch the counter-terrorism operation was not made in haste, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

“The decision about Azm-e-Istehkam was taken because of the economic difficulties, and it may also target TTP’s sanctuaries across the border,” he told the state-owned American news network and international radio broadcaster.

The minister said that it would not be against international law since Afghanistan had been “exporting” terrorism to Pakistan, and the “exporters” were being harboured there, the Dawn newspaper reported.

Asif said that although the TTP was operating from the neighbouring country, its cadre, about a few thousand in number, “are operating from within the country”.

He also ruled out any chances of dialogue with the banned outfit, saying there was no common ground.

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