Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has ordered the execution of 11 Taliban commanders following a massive truck bombing in the capital that killed and injured some 500 people.
According to Afghan media reports on June 1, many of the commanders are associated with the Haqqani network. Afghan officials accuse neighboring Pakistan of sheltering and aiding this deadly Taliban wing responsible for spectacular urban attacks.
Ghani’s order follows one of the deadliest attacks in the Afghan capital, Kabul. No group has claimed responsibility for the May 31 attack that killed at least 90 people and injured more than 400 near the diplomatic quarters in the city.
“This was a barbaric attack that plunged our nation into mourning during the holy month of Ramadan,” Ghani said in a late-night television address on May 31. “Terrorism is a scourge against humanity.”
Ghani called for an emergency national consultation to mobilize the Afghan nation against terrorist threats.
“I am calling on all political, religious, and tribal leaders, youth and all segments of society to put aside their personal and political differences and unite to get ready for a historic decision, which will determine our nation’s fate,” he said. “Your elected government and our brave soldiers will be implementing this decision.”
Late on May 31, Afghanistan's spy agency blamed the Haqqani network and neighboring Pakistan for the massive truck bombing.
"The plan for today's attack was drawn up by the Haqqani network with direct coordination and cooperation from Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI)," said a statement by the National Directorate of Security.
Without mentioning Pakistan by name, Ghani said the time has come to adopt a national stance in the “undeclared war” imposed on his country. Since assuming office in September 2014, Ghani has repeatedly characterized relations with Islamabad as a state of undeclared war.
“Condemning such acts is no longer sufficient. The time has come to take practical steps against such inhuman and anti-Islam organizations,” he said. “The government of Afghanistan will not spare any efforts against such groups.”
Hours after the attack, the Afghanistan Cricket Board canceled all cricket matches against the Pakistani national side scheduled for July and August.
Islamabad, however, “strongly” condemned the Kabul attack. “Pakistan, being a victim of terrorism, understands the pain and agony that such incidents inflict upon the people and society,” said a May 31 statement by the Pakistani foreign office. “The people and government of Pakistan extend their heartfelt sympathies and deepest condolences to the government and the people of Afghanistan and the bereaved families.”
Relations between the two neighbors have deteriorated rapidly as each accuses the other of aiding and sheltering Taliban factions responsible for attacks in the neighboring country.
Since the December 2014 departure of most NATO troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have overrun large swathes of the Afghan countryside and stepped up their attacks in major cities.
The scale of destruction in the May 31 attack seems to cross the violence threshold levels Kabul has tolerated during the past 16 years when the former Taliban hard-line regime regrouped as an insurgency in neighboring Pakistan.
“We want peace but those who kill us in the holy month of Ramadan aren’t worth a call for peace; they must be destroyed and uprooted,” Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah wrote on Twitter.