NEW DELHI: After the weekend terror attack in Kabul that killed at least 22 people, many of them civilians, the US White House today told Pakistan in no uncertain terms that it needs to immediately arrest or expel the Taliban’s leaders who operate from Pakistani territory.
“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,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House spokeswoman.
The White House statement came even as the Trump administration has doubled down on the pressure on Pakistan, which it says provides safe haven to terrorists and terror groups that carry out attacks in Afghanistan and in India.
“Such attacks on civilians only strengthen our resolve to support our Afghan partners…Afghan forces with our support will continue to relentlessly pursue the enemies of Afghanistan who also seek to export terror around the world,” said the White House spokeswoman.
Late on Saturday, terrorists armed with Kalashnikovs and suicide vests attacked the landmark Intercontinental Hotel overlooking the Afghan capital, in an assault that lasted more than 12 hours, reported various news agencies. The Taliban later took credit for the terror attack in which 14 non-Afghans were also killed. Afghanistan blamed the Taliban-linked Haqqani militant group for the attack.
Elimination of the group is a top priority for the US, which claims that Pakistan is doing absolutely nothing to crack down on the group. Worse, Pakistani intelligence and its army are said to covertly support the Haqqani Network. The US earlier this month blocked $2 million in military assistance to Pakistan on this very issue, but Islamabad continues to claim it is innocent after the weekend Kabul attack, Pakistan’s foreign office spokesman Mohammad Faisal rejected what it called “knee-jerk allegations” that the attack was carried out by Pakistan-based terrorists.