The latest: Amid a surge in attacks by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Pakistan, the country’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has said that the banned militant group was still using Afghan soil to carry out attacks inside the country.
- He said that the TTP is using neighbouring Afghanistan for terrorism. “TTP is using (the) Afghan soil even today for attacks in our country, especially Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the minister said.
- “Islamabad has good relations with the ruling Taliban government in Kabul. However, the Afghan authorities have not succeeded in stopping the use of their territory in attacks on Pakistan,” he said.
- “According to my information on TTP militants, between 7,000 to 8,000 of them have been involved in the war against NATO with the Afghan Taliban,” the Pakistan defence minister was quoted as saying.
- He said he believed the Afghan Taliban were “distancing” themselves from the proscribed outfit. However, Asif said the Afghan Taliban and TTP shared a “camaraderie” because they have been fighting against NATO for the past 20 years.
- Asif also said that the banned militant group was equipped with advanced weapons, such as night vision goggles left behind by the American forces when they withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021.
- Asif recalled that the issue of increased attacks by the TTP was brought to the notice of the Afghan Taliban rulers during his recent visit to Kabul.
Meanwhile in a related development, Pakistan’s National Assembly Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs highlighted that the Doha deal proved detrimental to the region’s peace and stability.
- Mohsin Dawar, a member of National Assembly of Pakistan said that the signing of the Doha Agreement between the Taliban and the United States in 2020 has been “harmful” for peace in the region.
- Dawar added that Pakistan facilitated this process without realizing the potential adverse consequences of this agreement.
Zoom out: Asif’s remarks come as Pakistan has witnessed a surge in TTP violence since peace talks between the militant group and the government began to falter in the latter half of last year.
- The TTP formally ended the ceasefire on November 28 and has executed more than 100 attacks since then.
- Many of these attacks were planned and directed by the militant group’s leadership based in Afghanistan.
- Earlier this year, a Pakistani delegation comprising Asif, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed Khan, Charge d’Affaires to Afghanistan Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani and Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq visited the Afghan capital for talks on security-related matters, including counter-terrorism measures.