Growing threat of TTP, ISKP mulled in Kabul

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Afghanistan discussed the growing threat of terrorism in the region, particularly from the banned militant groups Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State Khorasan Province (ISKP), in high-level talks held in Kabul on Wednesday.
The Foreign Office (FO) said that the Pakistani delegation arrived in Kabul earlier in the day for talks with officials of the interim Afghan government on security-related matters, including counter-terrorism measures.
A press release from the FO, issued later in the day, said the delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif met Afghan Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund, Defence Minister Mawlavi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi. “Matters relating to the growing threat of terrorism in the region, particularly by TTP and ISKP, came under discussion. The two sides agreed to collaborate to effectively address the threat of terrorism posed by various entities and organisations.
“Both sides agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in various fields to further enhance the fraternal relations between the two countries,” the FO said.

In photos released by the Afghan prime minister’s office, the Pakistani delegation — comprising Inter-Services Intelligence Director General Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, Foreign Secretary Asad Majeed Khan, Chargé d’Affaires (CdA) to Afghanistan Ubaidur Rehman Nizamani and Pakistan’s Special Representative for Afghanistan Mohammad Sadiq — can be seen meeting Mullah Baradar alongside Asif.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Afghan Council of Ministers (prime minister) said the two sides discussed economic cooperation, regional connectivity, trade, and bilateral relations.

“Pakistan and Afghanistan are neighbours and should have cordial relations. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan wants expansion of commercial and economic relations with Pakistan as such relations are in the interest of both countries,” the statement quoted Mullah Baradar as saying.

He noted 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.

The statement said that the Afghan deputy prime minister asked the Pakistani delegation to release Afghans detained in jails across Pakistan.

He also urged Pakistan to ensure facilities for Afghan passengers at the Torkham and Chaman-Spin Boldak borders, with special consideration for emergency patients.

The statement added that the Pakistani side assured the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to resolve the problems. The delegation said that the concerned ministries and committees would be asked to step up efforts for solutions to these problems.

The meeting comes as the Pakistan-Afghanistan Torkham border — the main trading and border crossing point between the two countries — remained closed for the third straight day on Tuesday after a deadlock over starting a dialogue prevailed between border officials.

Earlier this week, the Afghan Taliban had shut the border crossing, accusing Pakis­tan of reneging on its commitments.

The Afghan Taliban co­mmissioner for Tor­kham had said the border was closed down for travel and transit trade. “Pakistan has not abi­ded by its commitments and so the gateway has been shut down on the directions of (our) leadership,” Maulavi Moham­mad Siddique had tweeted.

According to unconfir­m­ed media reports, the int­erim Afghan governm­ent was irked by an unannounced ban on the travel of Afghan patients seeking treatment in Pakistan.

On Feb 21, an exchange of fire between Pakistan and Afghanistan was also reported at the Torkham border in which a security guard was injured. –Agencies