Taliban Pledge To ‘Neutralize’ Activities of Afghan-Based Pakistani Militants

FILE - Amir Khan Muttaqi, foreign minister of Afghanistan’s Taliban, speaking in Islamabad, May 8, 2023. (VOA)
FILE – Amir Khan Muttaqi, foreign minister of Afghanistan’s Taliban, speaking in Islamabad, May 8, 2023. (VOA)

Afghanistan’s Taliban have pledged “concrete steps” to “neutralize” activities of militants plotting terrorist attacks against neighboring Pakistan, diplomatic sources told VOA on Friday.

The assurance was given in a bilateral meeting Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi hosted Thursday with a high-level Pakistani delegation in Kabul, the sources privy to the talks said.

Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s special representative on Afghanistan, led the delegation including senior military officials, among others. The visit came amid an upsurge in deadly attacks against security forces in Pakistan.

The banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, has claimed responsibility for much of the violence. Islamabad maintains TTP leaders and fighters sheltering in Afghanistan have intensified cross-border attacks since the Taliban reclaimed power in Kabul two years ago.

Hundreds of Pakistani police and soldiers have died in almost daily TTP attacks in the last year.

The sources told VOA that “the emphasis” of Thursday’s talks was on the TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban. “The Afghan side was told that the TTP’s use of Afghan territory against Pakistan has been a serious concern” for Islamabad.

The Kabul authorities “assured concrete steps to neutralize TTP activities,” the sources added, without elaborating.

The meeting also decided to hold “regular consultations” to review the security situation along the nearly 2,600-kilometer border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

While Pakistani officials have not released any details of the talks, Muttaqi’s office quoted him as stressing the need for both countries to refrain from making public statements that fuel mutual mistrust.

“No one will be allowed to spoil the relations between the two countries,” the Taliban chief diplomat said. The statement on X, formerly Twitter, did not mention the TTP, nor did it refer to Kabul’s alleged pledge about curbing the group’s activities.

The Taliban deny allegations they are allowing anyone to use Afghan soil to threaten other countries.

Pakistani officials have previously claimed they shared with Taliban authorities “video evidence” and bodies of suspected Afghan Taliban fighters who joined TTP militants in recent high-profile “terrorist” attacks and were killed by security forces.

The United States has designated the TTP a global terrorist organization.

The group’s leadership has publicly pledged allegiance to Hibatullah Akhundzada, the reclusive supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban. The TTP emerged in Pakistani border areas in 2007 and fought alongside the Taliban against U.S.-led NATO troops in Afghanistan.

“The group posing the greatest threat to the region’s stability is the TTP. We have seen a very significant increase in attacks directed at Pakistan,” Tom West, the U.S. special representative on Afghanistan, told a seminar in Washington last week.

“They [the TTP] became allies of the Taliban during the war. They were financial supporters, logistical supporters, and operational allies as well. I think the ties between them are quite tight,” West said.

All American and NATO troops withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021, just days after the then-Taliban insurgents took control of the country, ending nearly 20 years of U.S. involvement in the Afghan war.

Taliban Pledge To ‘Neutralize’ Activities of Afghan-Based Pakistani Militants