Allegations and retaliations: cross-border tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Tensions between Afghanistan and Pakistan escalated on Monday as the Taliban accused Pakistan of conducting two airstrikes within Afghan territory, resulting in the deaths of five women and three children. In retaliation, the Taliban reportedly launched heavy weapon fire at Pakistani forces along the border.

Both nations have been embroiled in a blame game regarding recent Islamist militant attacks in Pakistan. While Pakistan asserts that these attacks originated from Afghan soil, the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan vehemently denies any involvement.

Zabiullah Mujahid, spokesperson for the Taliban administration, emphasized the Afghan stance, stating, “The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan does not permit the compromise of security through the use of Afghan territory.” Mujahid reported casualties in the eastern border provinces of Khost and Paktika due to the alleged Pakistani airstrikes.

Pakistan’s foreign office acknowledged conducting “intelligence-based anti-terrorist operations” within Afghan border regions but refrained from detailing the nature of these operations. The actions were purportedly aimed at members of the Hafiz Gulf Bahadur militant group following an attack on a Pakistani military post on Saturday.

Responding to the airstrikes, the Taliban’s defense ministry claimed its forces targeted Pakistani troops along the border. Additionally, the Taliban’s foreign office summoned Pakistan’s head of mission to denounce the alleged attacks.

In a televised statement, the Pakistani military attributed a recent surge in terrorism to alleged support and assistance from Afghanistan, although no mention was made of specific airstrikes. The military highlighted Saturday’s attack near the Afghan border, which resulted in the deaths of seven Pakistani security personnel.

Pakistan has repeatedly voiced concerns to the interim Afghan government regarding the presence of terrorist organizations on Afghan soil, according to Pakistan’s foreign office. The recent attack underscores the gravity of the situation, as a vehicle laden with explosives and multiple suicide bombers targeted a military post.

Denying allegations of harboring militant groups, the Afghan Taliban condemned Pakistan’s accusations, asserting that Pakistan’s internal issues cannot be attributed to Afghanistan. Mujahid warned of dire consequences resulting from such incidents, emphasizing that Pakistan may lose control over the situation.