Pakistan demands Afghan action against TTP after attack on Chinese engineers

On Sunday, Pakistan called on the Afghan Taliban government to arrest the entire leadership of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and bring them to justice. This demand follows fresh evidence linking the TTP to the March 26 terrorist attack on Chinese engineers in Besham.

Interior Minister Mohsen Naqvi, speaking at a press conference in Lahore alongside National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) Coordinator Rai Tahir, emphasised that without decisive action against the TTP, the relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan would remain strained. Naqvi revealed that the Afghan government had been provided with evidence of the TTP’s involvement in the Besham attack but had yet to respond positively.

“Pakistan not only demands the arrest of the three TTP terrorists responsible for the Besham attack but also insists on the detention of the entire TTP leadership, including its chief Noor Wali Mehsud,” Naqvi stated. He added that if the Afghan government could not prosecute them, they should be handed over to Pakistan.

On March 26, a convoy transporting Chinese nationals from Islamabad to the Dassu Hydropower Project in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was targeted on the Karakoram Highway near Besham. A van in the convoy exploded, causing a bus carrying Chinese nationals to plunge into a 150-foot-deep ravine, killing five Chinese nationals and their Pakistani driver.

NACTA Coordinator Rai Tahir detailed the thorough investigation conducted by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa counter-terrorism department (CTD). The investigation revealed that the attack was a vehicle-borne improvised explosive device (VBIED) detonation carried out by a suicide bomber. “The body parts found at the crime scene confirmed the involvement of a suicide bomber,” Tahir said, adding that forensic analysis had been pivotal in solving the case.

The joint investigation team (JIT), led by Tahir, uncovered that the attack was orchestrated in Afghanistan with assistance from Pakistani collaborators. The authorities have arrested 11 suspects, including the main executors, handlers, and facilitators of the attack. “The recovery of a cell phone used by the suicide bomber provided crucial evidence leading to the arrests,” Tahir explained.

The investigation identified that the TTP leadership, including Noor Wali Mehsud, orchestrated the attack from Afghanistan. Accused terrorists Hazrat Bilal Farman, Bakhtiar Shah, and Qari Asadullah were key planners. The vehicle used in the attack was purchased in Afghanistan and fitted with explosives before being transported to Pakistan.

The 11 arrested suspects — Adil Shehbaz, Shafiq Qureshi, Zahid Qureshi, Nazeer Hussain, Faizullah, Fasih Ullah, Imran Swati, Sakha Ullah, Abdullah, Abdul Rehman, and Kamal Khan — are in police custody. “They will face trial in the Anti-Terrorism Court,” Tahir confirmed, promising a swift trial and maximum penalties.

Pakistan is seeking mutual legal assistance from the Afghan government to apprehend TTP leaders residing in Afghanistan. “We demand the arrest and extradition of TTP Ameer Noor Wali Mehsud and other senior leaders,” Naqvi asserted. Pakistan is also implementing strict border control measures and intensifying intelligence-based operations to prevent future attacks targeting foreigners, particularly Chinese nationals.

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