Afghans Chant 'Death to Pakistan' After Taliban Attacks in Kabul

Demonstrators have taken to the streets of Afghanistan after officials said they had received evidence terrorists behind the recent attacks in the country were based in Pakistan.

Protesters burned flags and chanted "Death to Pakistan" during the rally in the capital Kabul on Thursday (January 31). Tensions are soaring in the country due to a recent surge in attacks.

Earlier this month, the Islamic State (ISIS) terror group claimed responsibility for an attack at an army outpost near a military academy that killed at least 11 soldiers.

The attack came just two days after the Taliban, a Sunni fundamentalist political movement, said it was behind an ambulance bombing that killed 103 people and injured another 235.

One of the deadliest attacks to hit the capital in months, it took place just weeks after the Taliban killed more than 20 people during a siege at Kabul's Intercontinental Hotel.

Interior Minister Wais Barmak and Masooom Stanekzai, head of the National Directorate of Security (NDS) intelligence service, visited Islamabad this week to press Pakistani authorities to move against Taliban leaders based in the country.

"We provided Pakistan with documents about Taliban operating centers inside Pakistan and we expect Pakistan to act against them," Barmak told a news conference in Kabul after the trip, Reuters reported. Pakistani officials are due to travel to Kabul to follow up on the talks.

Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of harboring terrorists, something that Islamabad denies, claiming the country itself is a recurrent target of deadly terror attacks.

Alleged support of Afghan Taliban

Pakistan-Afghanistan border
A Pakistani soldier keeps vigil next to a newly fenced border fencing along with Afghan's Paktika province border in Angoor Adda in Pakistan's South Waziristan tribal agency on October 18, 2017. The Pakistan military vowed on October 18 a new border fence and hundreds of forts would help curb militancy, as it showcased efforts aimed at sealing the rugged border with Afghanistan long crossed at will by insurgents. AAMIR QURESHI/AFP/Getty Images

The Taliban took control of Afghanistan in 1996, imposing a strict version of Islam and persecuting anyone who would not abide by their laws. Although Taliban rule ended following a U.S. invasion in 2001, its insurgents still control some areas of the country.

Recent reports said that, in spite of an increase in U.S. raids targeting the militants, the Taliban still threatens about 70 percent of the country. Afghani officials claimed the BBC report exaggerated the extent of Taliban control.

Pakistan intelligence has often been linked to the Taliban.

"Right from its emergence as a local armed group against local warlords, bandits and criminals, the Taliban movement was strongly supported by Pakistan—its military and intelligence services ISI [Inter-Services Intelligence]," journalist and analyst Aimal Faizi told Newsweek.

In 2010, a report by the London School of Economics (LSE) alleged that ISI supported the Afghan Taliban, claiming there was real evidence of operational and strategic cooperation between the two.

The report made the claims following interviews with Taliban members, but Pakistani officials dismissed the allegations.

Pakistan has also been accused of providing a safe haven to leaders of the Afghan Taliban.

In 2015, Afghanistan security services said Taliban leader Mullah Omar had died in a hospital in Pakistan two years before. Islamabad dismissed the statement as speculation.

"Both the U.S. and the Afghan government believe that the Taliban's leadership is based in Pakistan," Faizi continued.

"The Taliban's leader appointed after Mullah Omar was also killed in Pakistan by a U.S. drone attack.

"Now, after every massive terrorist attack Afghans go to streets and protest against Pakistan."

India

According to Faizi, Pakistan has been using the Taliban to target its principal enemy: India.

The two countries are engaged in an ongoing dispute over the contested territories of Kashmir, which both administer and claim total sovereignty of. India accuses Pakistan of backing militants who carry out attacks in India-administered Kashmir. Pakistan denies the allegations and has called for a dialogue to resolve the dispute.

"Through the Taliban, Pakistan wanted to invade and control Afghanistan for its geopolitical goals in the region, in particular, vis-a-vis India, its principle enemy," Faizi said.

Last year, U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian prime Minister Narendra Modi jointly called on Pakistan to prevent terrorists from using its territory to launch attacks.