Afghan Taliban asks Pakistan Government to pursue peace talks with TTP: Report

Pakistan's latest efforts aimed at seeking action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by Kabul could not make headway, The Express Tribune newspaper reported

Published - July 23, 2023 02:50 am IST - Islamabad

The Afghan Taliban has asked the Pakistan Government to initiate another round of negotiations with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan terror group, with a top leader in Kabul telling Islamabad that it should prefer peace over war, a media report said on Saturday.

Pakistan's latest efforts aimed at seeking action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) by Kabul could not make headway, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.

Pakistan dispatched its special envoy to Kabul this week on a three-day trip to convey a clear message that Afghanistan's Taliban-led interim government will have to take decisive action against the TTP, blamed for a number of major terror attacks in the country.

Ambassador Asad Durrani met with Afghanistan’s Acting Prime Minister Maulvi Abdul Kabir, Acting Minister for Foreign Affairs Mawlawi Amir Khan Muttaqi and other officials during his trip.

But the Afghan Taliban told him after a series of meetings that Pakistan should pursue the path of peace instead of the use of force, the newspaper reported.

Official sources familiar with the closed-door engagements told the paper that the Afghan Taliban leadership was told in clear terms that Pakistan’s patience was wearing thin vis-a-vis the TTP.

On the issue, Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch also at her weekly news briefing this week said: “The issue of an issue of serious concern to Pakistan. And Pakistan has raised this issue with the Afghan authorities on multiple occasions and at every important engagement that takes place between Pakistan and the Afghan interim authorities." “We have discussed the threat of terrorism emanating from the Afghan soil,” she added when asked whether Ambassador Durrani took up the issue of cross-border terrorism with the Afghan authorities.

But despite Pakistan’s insistence on action against the TTP, the Afghan Taliban government is not ready to go that path.

The deputy Afghan prime minister suggested the Pakistani envoy to pursue the “path of peace” instead of the “use of force”, the report quoted sources as saying.

They said it was evident that the Afghan Taliban was not interested in taking action against the TTP.

Instead, Kabul once again asked Pakistan to start peace talks with the TTP.

Pakistan has abandoned the peace process after the TTP stepped up attacks and took advantage of the earlier rounds of talks.

The civil and military leadership decided that Pakistan would no longer seek talks with the TTP. But at any stage, if talks are needed those can only take place once the TTP surrenders.

Pakistan has accused the Taliban government in Kabul of tolerating the presence of the banned TTP militants in the war-torn country.

Pakistan has seen a significant increase in TTP attacks since the Afghan Taliban came to power in 2021.

The Afghan acting prime minister Kabir asked Durrani if Pakistan should prefer peace over war, the report said.

He said due to the bitter experience of wars in Afghanistan, he would advise Pakistan to take the path of negotiations instead.

Kabir said he sees peace in Pakistan in the interest of Afghanistan and considers acts of violence there as a loss for Afghanistan and as a Muslim country Afghanistan does not want fighting and unrest in Pakistan.

He assured the Pakistani envoy that the Afghan Taliban government had a policy of non-interference in the internal matters of other countries. He claimed that Afghanistan would not allow its soil to be used against any other country including Pakistan.

The sources said Ambassador Durrani would brief the government on his return from Kabul and give his assessment. The sources said Pakistan is unlikely to accept the Afghan Taliban offer.

The sources said Pakistan would devise its strategy keeping in view the input from the special envoy, reported The Express Tribune.

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