Pakistan has handed over to the Afghan Taliban a list of “most wanted terrorists” affiliated with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) operating from the war-torn neighbouring country as Islamabad seeks to take decisive action against the militant outfit.
Besides, Afghan Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada has reportedly set up a three-member commission to investigate Islamabad’s complaints that the TTP was using Afghanistan to plot cross-border terrorist attacks.
The list was shared with the Afghan Taliban leadership recently after they took control of Kabul at a lightning speed that stunned the world.
As the Afghan Taliban prepare to form the government in Kabul, Islamabad has already initiated talks with the group, seeking action against TTP and its affiliates.
"We have taken up the issue with them [Afghan Taliban]. We have given them a list of wanted TTP terrorists operating from Afghanistan," a senior Pakistani official, familiar with the development, told The Express Tribune.
The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, added that Pakistan expected the new government led by the Afghan Taliban to take action against the TTP.
Although the official did not share the list, it is believed that Pakistan was seeking extradition or action against the TTP chief and its other top commanders.
Separately, a commission set up by the Afghan Taliban has been working towards urging anti-Pakistan militants to stop violence against the neighbouring country and return to their homes across the border, the Voice of America (VOA) learnt through highly-placed sources.
Quoting sources in Islamabad, the VOA reported that the TTP leaders were being warned by the commission to settle their problems with Pakistan "and return to the country along with their families in exchange for a possible amnesty by the Pakistani government”.
The sources have ruled out the possibility of Pakistan accepting any TTP demands, insisting the amnesty would be offered in line with the country’s Constitution and law, which would require the militants to surrender their weapons.
According to the February 2020 deal reached between the Afghan Taliban and the US in Doha, the group cannot permit regional or transnational terrorist groups to use Afghan soil to threaten global security.
"This concern is legitimate, and our policy is clear that we will not allow anyone to use the soil of Afghanistan against any neighbouring country, including Pakistan. So, they should not have any concern,” Afghan Taliban spokesperson Suhail Shaheen told media agencies.
Shaheen added that neither the TTP nor any other terrorist groups “will have no place in our country and that’s a clear message to all.”
Analysts have claimed that it would be extremely difficult for the Afghan Taliban to disregard the reservations of the neighbouring countries, including Pakistan, on the presence of terrorists which have targets across the Afghan border.
The TTP was driven out of the erstwhile tribal areas by Pakistan when it launched a full scale military offensive in 2014.
Most of the TTP terrorists found refuge across the border as Pakistan accused Indian spy agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Afghanistan's National Directorate of Security (NDS) of funding and backing the terrorist outfit.
Since the Afghan Taliban swept Kabul at a stunning pace, there are growing concerns that groups such as the banned TTP may be further emboldened by the development.
The TTP chief recently issued a statement congratulating the Afghan Taliban victory and renewed allegiance to its chief Akhundzada.
There were also reports that the Afghan Taliban released many TTP terrorists including its former deputy chief Maulvi Faqir Muhammad from jail.
However, the official was hopeful that the Afghan Taliban would not allow the soil of the neighbouring country to become a safe haven for the TTP and other terrorist groups.
Army chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa had recently reminded the Afghan Taliban of the promise they made with the international community for not letting Afghan soil to be used by terrorists again.
At a weekly briefing, the Foreign Office spokesperson had indicated that Pakistan would ask the Afghan Taliban to take action against TTP.
"We have a clear position on the TTP. It is a terrorist organisation that is proscribed by Pakistan as well as the United Nations," then FO spokesperson Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri had said.
"We have been taking up the issue of use of Afghan soil by the TTP for terrorist activities in Pakistan with the previous Afghan government and we will continue to do so with the future one. We must ensure that it [TTP] is not provided any space in Afghanistan to operate against Pakistan," he added.
The spokesperson also said Pakistan had seen some media reports regarding the release of TTP terrorists.
"We have and continue to oppose support for any individual or any proscribed groups and outfits that remained involved in terrorist activities inside Pakistan.”
Zahid added that Pakistan hoped that once the new government was formed in Afghanistan, it would take strict measures to ensure that its soil was not used against other countries.
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