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Kabul willing to assist in solving problem of TTP sanctuaries

ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban promised on Wednesday to work with the Pakistani government to address the country’s concerns about the presence of outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters and safe havens on its soil, following a strong warning from Islamabad.

The Foreign Office in a statement issued after a day-long trip by a delegation led by Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif to Kabul said the growing TTP and IS-K threat was discussed and “the two sides agreed to collaborate to effectively address the threat of terrorism”.

Among those in the delegation were ISI Chief Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, Foreign Secretary Asad Majid, Special Envoy on Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq, and Pakistan’s chargé affairs in Afghanistan Obaid Nizamani, who has been in Afghanistan since he was shot on December 3.

The visit came just days after TTP gunmen raided Karachi’s police headquarters, killing four people, including three security personnel. Previously, on January 30, a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a Peshawar Mosque, killing nearly 100 people. The TTP was also blamed for the mosque attack.

Both the defense minister and the chief of the ISI met with the Afghan Taliban leadership, and both sides discussed the growing TTP and IS-K threats: FO

TTP violence has increased in Pakistan since peace talks between the militant group and the government stalled in the latter half of last year. The TTP formally ended the ceasefire on November 28, and the group has claimed 58 attacks in which 170 people have died since then.

The TTP leadership in Afghanistan planned and directed many of these attacks.

In the background, a senior Pakistani official told Dawn that the delegation delivered a clear message to Taliban officials that Afghanistan-based TTP elements must be reined in.

Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar Akhund, Defence Minister Mawlavi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani, and Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi met with the visiting delegation.

Afghan leaders have previously denied allegations that the TTP used Afghan territory to launch attacks in Pakistan, but the official claims that this time they have agreed to cooperate on the issue. “They probably realized the gravity of the situation,” he added.

The specifics of the TTP cooperation would be worked out in a subsequent expert and technical meetings between the two parties.

During their meetings, the two sides also discussed broader issues such as counter-terrorism and border security cooperation.

Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban stated that the two parties discussed economic cooperation, regional connectivity, trade, and the state of bilateral relations.

Mullah Baradar urged Pakistan not to let “political and security concerns” interfere with business and economic matters.

According to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the delegation linked progress on all of these ideas for strengthening bilateral cooperation to the Afghan Taliban addressing their concerns about TTP presence in their country.

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