Pakistan, Afghan Taliban discuss TTP 'resettlement plan’

Afghan interim govt has asked Islamabad to bear the cost of the plan, say sources

Kamran Yousaf March 04, 2023
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif meets Afghanistan’s Acting First Deputy Prime Minister of Afghanistan for Economic Affairs Abdul Ghani Baradar on February 22, 2023. PHOTO: AFGHAN PMO


Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban are discussing a resettlement plan for the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in a renewed push to address the issue of cross-border terrorist attacks that have threatened to unravel their bilateral relationship.

Sources familiar with the development told The Express Tribune that the idea of resettlement came from the Afghan Taliban during the recent visit of a high-powered Pakistani delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif. The Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), Lt General Nadeem Anjum was also part of the daylong trip.

The purpose of the visit was to convey to the Afghan Taliban a clear message that Pakistan would no longer seek talks with the TTP since the group used earlier peace efforts to regroup and target Pakistan.

Read more: Pakistan gets ‘fresh commitment’ from Afghan Taliban on TTP

Sensing the Pakistani position, the Afghan Taliban proposed a new plan that envisaged disarming the TTP and relocating their members from the border areas. Unlike the previous plans, the TTP members will be resettled inside Afghanistan.

The Afghan Taliban, however, asked Pakistan to bear the cost of that plan. One official source said that Pakistan will have to bear the cost as certain other countries have done the same.

The source said this was probably the best available solution at the moment to deal with the TTP threat. The source, however, admitted that executing and verifying such a plan would be a challenge. Also, Pakistan wants if any such plan is implemented it has to be irreversible.

Currently, there are between eight to 12 thousand TTP militants in Afghanistan. The number goes up to 30,000 if their family members are included.

After the Afghan Taliban takeover in August 2021, the then government of Prime Minister Imran Khan initiated talks with the TTP and allowed hundreds of TTP militants to resettle in Pakistan. The move, however, backfired as returning TTP militants started targeting the security forces and carried out major terrorist attacks.

That policy was reviewed and then abandoned as Pakistani policymakers realised that approach was a mistake and only benefited the TTP.

During the visit of Pakistani delegation, the Afghan Taliban were presented “irrefutable evidence” of TTP presence in Afghanistan and the precise location of its leadership.

The interim Afghan government was also told that the TTP leadership and their fighters were living in Afghanistan with Kabul’s facilitation. The Afghan side tried to placate Pakistan with a briefing by its intelligence officials about the actions and proposed steps to be taken against the TTP. However, those actions were not deemed satisfactory and the Afghan Taliban were told to come up with a more workable plan.

In case, the Afghan Taliban continued to provide shelter to the TTP or cross-border terrorist attacks, Pakistan might resort to other options including hot pursuits.

Pakistan did carry out unannounced strikes inside Afghanistan in April last year to deter TTP from carrying out cross-border attacks. Some observers believe that may be the template going forward—Pakistan targets TTP hideouts across the border but denies it publically.


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