Pakistan delegation visits Kabul to discuss security concerns

KABUL (Monitoring Desk): A high-ranking delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif is in Kabul today to meet with officials of the Afghan Taliban government to discuss security matters including counter-terrorism measures, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Wednesday.

The delegation includes Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum and Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq.

The visit comes against the backdrop of a recent surge in Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) sponsored terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Sources say Islamabad will persuade the Afghan interim government to live up to its commitment of not allowing Afghan soil to be used by the TTP and its affiliates.

The visit was the result of hectic behind-the-scenes efforts by Pakistan aimed at pressing the Afghan Taliban to tackle TTP sanctuaries.

Official sources claimed that the Afghan Taliban have shown a willingness to address Pakistan’s concerns, however, observers are skeptical.

Earlier, the Afghan Taliban government showed their willingness to address Pakistan’s concerns on the banned TTP after Islamabad stepped up the pressure in the wake of a recent surge in terrorism.

Official sources familiar with the development told The media 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.

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.