Afghan Taliban show willingness to address TTP issue

Official says Afghan interim government is "mindful" of Pakistan’s concerns, likely to “take certain actions”

Kamran Yousuf February 14, 2023
An Afghan Taliban delegation in Moscow, Russia May 30, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS


The Afghan Taliban government have shown their willingness to address Pakistan’s concerns on the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after Islamabad stepped up pressure in the wake of a recent surge in terrorism.

Official sources familiar with the development told The Express Tribune that Pakistan and the interim Afghan government have been in backchannel conversations to resolve the issue of the banned terrorist outfit.

Those contacts have been triggered by the surge in terrorism in Pakistan particularly after the deadly terrorist attack in the Police Lines area of Peshawar in which over 100 people – mostly policemen – lost their lives.

The deadly attack compelled Pakistan to revisit the strategy pursued by the previous government, which sought to address the TTP issue through talks.

The PTI government allowed hundreds of TTP terrorists to return as part of confidence-building measures. But the move backfired as TTP members regrouped and started launching renewed attacks.

Also read: Islamabad asks Kabul for ‘concrete actions’ against TTP

The Peshawar Police Lines attack dealt a fatal blow to the peace efforts as the civilian and military leadership decided not to seek any direct talks with the TTP. Instead, the decision was taken to raise the issue with the Afghan Taliban at the highest level.

Sources said those efforts have made some progress as the Afghan Taliban have shown willingness to tackle the issue of TTP.

"The Afghan Taliban are mindful of our concerns and there are indications that the interim government would take certain actions and steps in this regard,” said an official privy to the flurry of engagements between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The official, however, would not divulge details of the likely actions the Afghan Taliban may take against the TTP.

Pakistan has long sought action against the TTP and its affiliates but the Afghan Taliban—instead of taking concrete action against terrorist outfits—offered to mediate talks. Islamabad reluctantly accepted the offer in the hope that it might lead to permanent closure of terror sanctuaries in Afghanistan.

However, after initial success, the process could not produce the desired results compelling Pakistan to revisit the strategy.

Also read: Unpacking TTP’s curious new narrative

The official said part of the reason the TTP issue was still pending was because there were serious differences within the Afghan Taliban ranks. The official said the Afghan government was still going through the transition period.

There was also an internal rift between the hardliners and moderates, the official explained.

"The internal fighting is only compounding the issues," the official further said.

The official was of the view that Pakistan had a clear stance now that there would no longer be talks with the TTP and the Afghan Taliban would have to neutralise the threat.

"Otherwise, our options are open," the official said, without providing further insight into those options.


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