ISLAMABAD: Days after they captured Kabul in mid-August, the Afghan Taliban had advised Pakistan to talk to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for a peaceful settlement, assuring Islamabad that Afghanistan’s land would not be allowed to be used by anyone against any country, including Pakistan.
The spokesman of Afghanistan’s new rulers, Zabihullah Mujahid, had even said in public, in one of his interactions with the media in August, that it is not Afghanistan but Pakistan that has to deal with the issue of the TTP, a proscribed organization.
Zabihullah Mujahid also said that the TTP considered the Afghan Taliban as their leaders and therefore would have to listen to the new Kabul rulers -- whether the TTP liked it or not. Pakistan wanted the Afghan Taliban to act against the banned TTP but because of the Afghan Taliban’s and the TTP’s joint operations against the occupation forces in Afghanistan in the past, the Afghan Taliban wanted to keep themselves indifferent to what the TTP was doing in Pakistan. However, after they captured Kabul and in view of both the Doha agreement (between the Taliban and the US) and the Afghan Taliban’s relations with Pakistan, the Taliban made a commitment with the entire world that unlike in the past, they would not allow their soil to be used against any country.
After the Taliban’s capture of Kabul and their commitment of not allowing anyone to use its soil against any other country, the TTP and other proscribed organisations, including those Baloch groups that were operating from Afghanistan, were barred from targeting Pakistan. Following a spurt in terrorist incidents in Pakistan recently, Islamabad had approached the Taliban in Kabul to ensure that their commitment was not violated by the TTP or any other group sitting in Afghanistan. Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid had said that in some incidents, the terrorist had connections with Afghanistan.
After the APS attack in 2014, Pakistan successfully fought its war against terrorism and largely eliminated the TTP’s presence in Pakistan. Now with the change of rulers in Kabul, the western border of the country has been largely secured. The present situation, it is said, offers a great advantage for Pakistan to get a negotiated settlement with the TTP and make the latter surrender.
Pakistan has been taking up the issue of the use of Afghan soil by the TTP and other proscribed organizations for terrorist activities inside Pakistan with the previous Afghan governments of Karzai and Ghani but during their tenure, India has been given a free hand to use Afghan soil against Pakistan.
A few weeks ago, President Arif Alvi and later foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi in their initial public statements had hinted of the need for the Pakistan government to talk with the TTP to make them surrender and submit to the writ of the government.
In return, they had said that the government could forgive them. Prior to the statements of the president and the foreign minister, some journalists, who are known for their expertise on the Afghan and also have good connections with the establishment, have been found suggesting the government hold peace talks with the TTP.
Although Prime Minister Imran Khan had disclosed in his latest statement that Pakistan is presently talking with the TTP in Afghanistan, it was already clear from the earlier statements of the president and foreign minister that the government is willing to hold peace talks with the proscribed organization.