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SOURCE: DAWN

The Foreign Office (FO) on Thursday categorically rejected reports claiming that Pakistan had carried out airstrikes in Afghanistan, terming them to be “utterly baseless and malicious”. The statement came hours after reports surfaced claiming Pakistan had carried out airstrikes in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province.

Afghan newspaper Hasht-e-Subh Daily quoted sources as saying that Pakistan “bombed targets in Salala neighborhood in the vicinity of Gushta district” on Thursday morning.

The development comes amid an uptick in terrorist attacks across the country, believed to have been planned and directed by the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) leaders based in Afghanistan.

The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban, executed around more than 100 attacks last year, most of which happened after August when the group’s peace talks with the Pakistan government began to falter. The ceasefire was formally ended last year on Nov 28 by the TTP.

It also comes as the Nat­ional Security Committee (NSC) categorically asked Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers, without directly naming them, to deny safe haven to Pakistani terrorist groups on its soil and end their patronage, while reiterating its intent to crush terrorist groups operating inside the country with full force.

The uncharacteristically strong-worded statement issued at the end of the NSC meeting, which spanned two days, said: “Pakistan’s security is uncompromisable and the full writ of the state will be maintained on every inch of the (sic) Pakistan’s territory.”

The committee agreed on a number of steps to deal with the worsening security situation, which has also drawn the attention of a number of important capitals prompting them to issue advisories for their nationals residing here.

The most important of all these actions was to send an unequivocal message to neighbouring Afghanistan to end all its support to TTP. “No country will be allowed to provide sanctuaries and facilitation to terrorists and Pakistan reserves all rights in that respect to safeguard her people,” the NSC statement said.

The warning was sent out in the midst of an escalating war of words between the two countries over TTP and the border dispute.