Afghan Taliban delegation quietly visits Pakistan to discuss TTP issue: Report
Islamabad: An Afghan Taliban delegation, comprising intelligence and security officials, quietly visited Islamabad recently to discuss a way forward towards addressing Pakistan’s concerns regarding the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), according to a media report on Tuesday.
Taliban ranks in Kabul also confirmed that a mid-level delegation led by Abdullah Ghazanavi, the head of the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI), travelled to Islamabad for discussion on the TTP and threats to Pakistan, the Express Tribune newspaper reported, citing sources.
The visit was a follow-up of last month’s trip to Kabul by a high-powered delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, which received a briefing on the steps taken by the Afghan government to deal with the TTP.
The Pakistani delegation, however, deemed those steps unsatisfactory and sought concerted actions. Pakistan also confronted the Afghan Taliban leadership with proofs about the whereabouts of the TTP leadership.
According to the paper, during its stay in Islamabad, the Afghan delegation met with the relevant authorities to discuss the security situation and the fate of the TTP and its affiliates.
Citing a source in Kabul with knowledge of the matter, the paper said that the delegation, comprising 10 members from the Taliban’s intelligence, visited Islamabad last week.
The delegation was also assisted by GDI official Muhammad Wardak, the source said, adding that the delegation was mandated to deliver a message from Kabul that the concerns of Pakistan would be addressed.
Both sides stayed mum on the visit. The sources in Islamabad said that given the sensitivity of the issue, both sides decided to discuss such matters away from the media glare.
The source in Kabul revealed that both sides made progress on various issues, but he was not authorised to make public statements.
The TTP has become a thorny issue between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban.
Pakistan expected the Afghan Taliban to address its concerns regarding the TTP after its return to power in August 2021. But contrary to the expectations, the TTP attacks only went up.
The Afghan Taliban’s reluctance to take on the TTP stemmed from its fears that the group’s fighters might join Da’esh (Islamic State). Second, the Afghan Taliban and the TTP share the same ideology as they fought alongside the US-led foreign forces.
Nevertheless, the two sides have been trying to find a way out of the TTP problem as it has threatened to undermine their future cooperation, according to the paper.
Pakistan has witnessed a surge in TTP violence since peace talks between the militant group and the government began to falter last year. The TTP formally ended the ceasefire on November 28.
The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban and is also known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.
The TTP, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
In 2012, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was attacked by TTP. She suffered bullet injuries and was admitted to the Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar and then taken to London for further treatment. The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Yousafzai was a “Western-minded girl”.
In 2014, the Pakistani Taliban stormed the Army Public School (APS) in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least 150 people, including 131 students. The attack sent shockwaves across the world and was widely condemned.