The latest: An Afghan Taliban delegation, comprising intelligence and security officials, quietly visited Islamabad recently to discuss a way forward towards addressing Pakistan’s concerns regarding the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
- A mid-level delegation, comprising 10 members, led by Abdullah Ghazanawi, the head of the General Directorate of Intelligence (GDI) department in the Ghazni province, had travelled to Pakistan for discussion on TTP and threats to Pakistan.
- Sources said the visit was a follow-up of last month’s trip to Kabul by a high-powered delegation led by Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif.
- During its stay in Islamabad, the sources said, the Afghan delegation met with the relevant authorities to discuss the security situation and the fate of the TTP and its affiliates.
- The delegation was also assisted by GDI official Muhammad Wardak, the source said, adding that the delegation was mandated to deliver a massage from Kabul that the concerns of Pakistan would be addressed.
- Both sides have not revealed much details about the visit.
Why it matters? The TTP has caused a rift between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan expected the Afghan Taliban to address its concerns regarding the TTP after its return to power in August 2021. However, contrary to the expectations, the TTP attacks only went up.
Back story: In February, a high-powered Pakistani delegation led by Defense Minister Khawja Asif visited Kabul. The delegation also included ISI Director General Lt-Gen Nadeem Anjum, the foreign secretary and the special envoy on Afghanistan.
- This was the first high-level visit from Pakistan to Afghanistan since the spike in terrorist attacks in the country and the change of army leadership.
- The Afghan Taliban were confronted with hard evidence from the Pakistani delegation about the presence of TTP and shared the precise location of its leadership. The Taliban authorities gave a briefing to the Pakistani side.
- They listed actions they took against certain groups of the TTP and their future strategy. One of the plans given by the Afghan Taliban to control the TTP includes disarming the terrorist outfit and their relocation from the border areas. However, the Afghan Taliban wanted Pakistan to bear the cost of that plan.
Zoom out: Even though details about the visit have not been made available. Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif had said last week that an official delegation from Afghanistan is due in Pakistan soon for continuation of talks related to various issues including regional security and counter-terrorism measures.
- He had said that they would discuss ‘security-related matters and variety of issues on bilateral cooperation.’
- Even though Afghan Taliban had stated earlier that political and security issues should not affect trade and economic matters between the two countries and be kept separate from political and security problems, it doesn’t seem that way on the ground.
- For the Taliban, this is another opportunity for it to make a case for the much sought-after global recognition. The Taliban visit to Pakistan will see both sides making new commitments over trade, travel, and border security issues if Kabul can force the TTP to call off its upcoming offensive.