"We are waiting for Pakistan to act," Afghanistan's president said, accusing Pakistan of being the "Taliban centre". Meanwhile, the Pakistani foreign ministry has urged Kabul to reach a settlement among different Afghan groups.

President Ashraf Ghani says Afghans
President Ashraf Ghani says Afghans "demand" peace and want "practical actions (from Pakistan)". (Reuters Archive)

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani on Friday accused neighbouring Pakistan of failing to move against the Taliban, and pledged a new security plan for Kabul after hundreds of people were killed and wounded in two deadly attacks in the capital last month.

"We are waiting for Pakistan to act," Ghani said in a televised address after weekly prayers, in which he accused Pakistan of being the "Taliban centre".

Afghans "demand" peace and want "practical actions (from Pakistan)", he added.

Afghanistan has long accused Pakistan of aiding the Taliban by giving shelter and aid to leaders of the Taliban insurgency, a charge denied by Pakistan, which points to the thousands of its own citizens killed by militants of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, which Islamabad says has hideouts in Afghanistan. 

Pakistan also says it can't be a scapegoat for the US and Afghan governments' failures in controlling the situation inside Afghanistan.

In fact, a recent BBC report said that the Taliban, "whom US-led forces spent billions of dollars trying to defeat," are active across 70 percent of the country.  

Mounting public anger

A recent attack on the Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, and a suicide bombing on a crowded city street a week later, have stoked public anger in Afghanistan and stepped up pressure on Ghani's Western-backed government to improve security.

The attacks, which killed more than 130 people and wounded hundreds more, were claimed by the Taliban, which is fighting to drive out international troops from Afghanistan.

Afghan and US officials said that the Pakistan-based Taliban-affiliated Haqqani network was responsible.

"The attack is not against our men, women or children but against the Afghan nation and it requires a national, comprehensive response," Ghani said, adding that security officials would present a new plan on Sunday.

Ghani said 11 arrests had been made and a complete list of individuals Kabul believed to be behind the attacks, as well as the networks that supported them, had been given to Pakistani authorities.

Competing Afghan groups

On Friday, Pakistan's Foreign Affairs Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Faisal said, "It is up to Afghanistan to a reach settlement among different Afghan groups. We wish for strong relations with the US, based on mutual respect and friendship, and do not expect assistance to be the yardstick of measuring bilateral relations."

It was unclear what steps would be taken to improve the last major security plan in Kabul, which established a string of extra checkpoints and heavy vehicle controls after a truck bomb killed 150 people in the city last May.

Pakistan's embassy in Kabul said on Thursday that officials in Islamabad were assessing the evidence presented during a visit by Afghan Interior Minister Wais Barmak and the head of the NDS intelligence service, Masoom Stanekzai.

Last week, Pakistan said it has been co-operating with Afghanistan, and that  several individuals belonging to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network were handed over to Afghanistan last year. 

Pakistan is widely believed to retain links to the Taliban as a bulwark against arch-nemesis India, which rivals Pakistan for influence in Afghanistan.

US President Donald Trump has ratcheted up the pressure on Pakistan in 2018 with a freeze on aid.

But some analysts warn that there may be no real way to pressure Islamabad, which believes in keeping Afghanistan out of India's orbit.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies