Pakistan asks Afghanistan to hand over 76 terrorists immediately; Fearless, undeterred devotees perform dhamaal at Lal Shahbaz Qalandar’s shrine

MAMOSA Report — Undeterred after a deadly blast that claimed 88 lives, followers of revered Sufi saint Lal Shahbaz Qalandar in Pakistan’s southern province of Sindh performed dhamaal (sufi dance) as usual after evening prayers.

The famous Sufi shrine was closed due to security reasons following the deadly attack by the Islamic State on Thursday.

Pakistan Army on Friday asked Kabul to hand over 76 terrorists hiding in Afghanistan, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

The military’s media wing on Friday evening claimed to have killed more than 100 suspected militants in intelligence-based operations carried out by security forces across the country, including Punjab, in the past 24 hours.

“The intelligence agencies are making progress to unearth networks behind the recent terrorism incidents,” read a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations.

In its statement, the military claimed that it had found linkages to militant support networks operating from across the border.

The Army Chief on Friday, while talking to US General John Nicholson, said continued acts of terrorism in Pakistan from Afghanistan are testing the current policy of cross border restraint, said a statement from the military’s media wing.

General Bajwa said most of the incidents of terrorism in Pakistan are claimed by terrorist organisations with their leadership hiding in Afghanistan.

At least 80 people were killed and over 200 injured when a suicide bomber struck in the midst of devotees at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan town, some 200 kilometers northeast of Karachi. The deadly attack was reminiscent of a near-identical bombing at Dargah Shah Noorani, in Khuzdar district of Balochistan, in November last year.

“Such terrorist activities and inaction against them are testing our current policy of cross border restraint,” Gen Bajwa told Gen Nicholson.

He asked the commander of the Resolute Support Mission (RSM) to play his role in “disconnecting this planning, direction, coordination and financial support”.

During the conversation with Nicholson, Bajwa also informed him of the list of terrorists handed over to Afghan authorities earlier today.

The head of the military’s media wing DG ISPR Major-General Asif Ghafoor said Friday Afghan Embassy officials were called to General Headquarters. “Given list of 76 terrorists hiding in Afghanistan. Asked to take immediate action/be handed over to Pakistan,” he said.

The move comes after a surge in terror attacks across Pakistan. On Thursday night, minutes after the army chief vowed to respond to the recent wave of terror in the country, security forces closed the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan for all sorts of communication indefinitely.

“The Pakistan-Afghanistan border closed with immediate effect till further orders due to security reasons,” ISPR DG Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor tweeted shortly after Gen Qamar’s statement.

Speaking to The Express Tribune on condition of anonymity, a top security official said the decision to close the border was taken in a high-level meeting on Thursday. “The border will remain closed for all sorts of trade, transport and people crossing over to both sides,” the official said. He added that the border will now only be reopened after thorough consultation with civil and military authorities.

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