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Afghan-Pakistan tensions rise after deadly airstrikes

Pakistan has been accused of killing eight civilians in Afghanistan in airstrikes Islamabad says were conducted in retaliation for a deadly attack on an army base by a member of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan militant group who was residing in Afghanistan. Kabul’s Taliban-led Islamic Emirate government has denied the charges and promised retaliation for the killing of what they say were mostly women and children in the provinces of Khost and Paktika. Since Monday’s airstrikes, officials and supporters of the Islamic Emirate have posted videos of the Afghan Taliban’s forces firing heavy weapons and paying visits to monitor the border between the two countries. The airstrikes stirred anger in Afghanistan, and were seen as a violation of the country’s sovereignty. For decades, the neighbours have accused one another of harbouring armed groups that pose a threat to their respective nations, but this latest escalation comes only months after Pakistan enacted a policy that has led to the expulsion of more than 500,000 Afghans back to Afghanistan. Islamabad cited the increase in militant attacks, which it claims largely originate from Afghanistan, as one of the justifications for the 3 October order to expel “all illegal foreigners”. Diplomatic ties have also been affected by the recent skirmishes. The Islamic Emirate said it summoned Pakistan’s ambassador in Kabul to give him a letter protesting and condemning the attacks in Khost and Paktika. For more background, read our analysis from March 2023.

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