ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s special representative for Afghanistan Asif Khan Durrani says the Taliban rulers in Afghanistan cannot shy away from their responsibility to control and punish fighters of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan(TTP).
“The TTP is enjoying shelter in Afghanistan. The group has 6000 fighters, who enjoy sanctuaries inside Afghanistan. They are there along with families in Afghanistan. They are involved in attacks along the border. They have been attacking our security forces. They have been involved in the massacre of common people,” Durrani said.
The special envoy was replying to questions by two former ambassadors at the “Ambassadors’ Lounge” YouTube program at a time when relations between the Afghan interim government and Pakistan are at their lowest ebb over the TTP and Pakistan’s decision to deport what officials call illegal Afghans.
“The peace in Afghanistan is infact becoming a nightmare for Pakistan because those people (TTP) who are taking sanctuaries inside Afghanistan are launching those attacks,” Durrani said.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar said on Nov. 8 that terror attacks in Pakistan rose 60 per cent and suicide bombings by 500 per cent after the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, condemning Kabul’s failure to stop the use of its soil for terrorism.
Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August 2021, toppling the government of President Ashraf Ghani, who had left the capital Kabul.
Durrani renewed Pakistan’s call on the Taliban “either to choose Pakistan or the TTP”.
“Controlling and disarming them (TTP fighters) is the responsibility of the Afghanistan govt. They cannot shy away from responsibility,” he said.
Durrani further said when the attack on Chitral was happening, a video of the TTP chief Noor Wali Mehsud was viral on social media, conducting the attack. “These things are bad in the context of the relations.”
He said the TTP and Afghan Taliban have long-standing relations and “It is also stated that they are the two sides of a single coin or same coin.”
Durrani recalled that Afghan ministers had mentioned in meetings with Pakistani leaders about an edict of their chief Sheikh Haibatullah Akhundzadah that he had declared attacks in Pakistan forbidden in Islam.
“So what should we assume if the TTP is violating the Taliban supreme leader’s orders? The Afghan Taliban should punish the TTP if they do not act upon the orders of the Taliban chief.” Durrani said.
The Taliban government rejected PM Kakar’s remarks and said it was not behind the insecurity in Pakistan.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is not responsible for maintaining peace in Afghanistan. They should solve their problems by themselves and not blame Afghanistan for their failures,” the Taliban government central spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
Durrani was not impressed by the Taliban statements and said the Taliban authorities have not taken any practical action against the TTP.
“The TTP is misusing Afghan soil so they should also be punished under the customs both in Pakistan and Afghanistan. The TTP fighters are under the control of the Afghan Taliban but they are allowed to cross the border and conduct sabotage activities, massacres and then go back,” Durrani said.
He recalled that the Afghan Taliban were involved in the attack on the garrison in Zhob, Balochistan on July 12 as three attackers among the five were Afghans.
“Also in the Chitral attack on Sept. 6, three or four Afghans were among the 12 attackers. So this has been a pattern,” he said.
Relocation of the TTP
Durrani said there was a proposal to relocate the TTP members from the border areas but it was not implemented.
Earlier security officials had stated the Taliban and Pakistan had reached an understanding to take the TTP fighters away from the border areas from where they will have no access to Pakistani borders.
Pakistan had even agreed to fund the relocation project but it did not happen.
Durrani proposed that the Taliban government and Pakistan should jointly tackle the problem of the TTP and the Islamic State Khorasan of the ISKP.
The Pakistani special envoy defended Pakistan’s decision to deport illegal nationals of all countries, saying this is not an unusual action.
Pakistan insists that the decision to deport illegal foreigners is not only for Afghans but for all illegal foreigners.
However, the Taliban leadership had shown a very angry reaction to the decision, calling it “inhuman and against the international norms”.