Pakistan would approach the interim Afghan government with a fresh demand to deny the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates any space on the Afghan soil, official sources told The Express Tribune here on Wednesday.
While the civil and military leadership decided to deal with the TTP and other terror outfits with iron hands, the Afghan Taliban would be asked to cooperate in this endeavour, they said, adding that the Afghan Taliban would be given one choice—“either you are with Pakistan or with the TTP”.
There has been a surge in terrorist attacks in recent months. The TTP claimed responsibility for more than 140 terrorist attacks in the last three months, including the first suicide attack in Islamabad in eight years.
The resurgence of the TTP attacks has pushed the country’s decision makers to revisit the strategy pursued by the previous administration. The high-powered National Security Committee (NSC) recently held in-depth discussion on the issue and approved a new strategy to tackle the challenge.
The civil and military leadership decided not to pursue talks with the TTP and the same would be conveyed to the Afghan Taliban. The Afghan Taliban acted as mediators in the earlier peace efforts as the interim government refused to evict the TTP by force.
The TTP has emerged as a major issue between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban government. Islamabad was hopeful that Kabul, under the new regime, would deal with the TTP differently than the previous US-backed Ashraf Ghani administration.
However, the TTP has regrouped since the Afghan Taliban takeover in Kabul, something that has sent alarm bells to the Pakistani decision-makers. The sources said the government would deal with the TTP with full force inside Pakistan, while the issue of terrorist hideouts across the border would be pursued vigorously with Kabul.
In this regard, according to the sources, Pakistan would present a fresh demand based on the recent NSC huddle to the Afghan government. Kabul would be told in clear terms that Pakistan wanted an end to all terrorist sanctuaries on the Afghan soil, failing which could undermine bilateral relationship.
The Afghan Taliban would be told that the future cooperation between the two countries would hinge on Kabul’s commitment not to allow the Afghan soil to be used against Pakistan, the sources continued.
The Afghan Taliban government recently dismissed Pakistan’s view that the TTP was operating out of the neighbouring country. The Taliban spokesperson insisted that the TTP was an internal problem of Pakistan.
However, the Afghan Taliban’s claim was already rebutted by several international reports, including the UN monitors, who revealed that the thousands of TTP terrorists were operating out of Afghan soil.
When asked, a senior official said that it was premature to conclude that Pakistan’s Afghan strategy had failed. The official said Pakistan would use all available diplomatic channels to convince the Afghan Taliban to tackle the TTP.
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