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ISLAMABAD: The government has decided to send a high-level delegation to Kabul to convey Pakistan’s ‘concerns’ to the Afghan interim government over the continued involvement of Afghanistan-based militant outfits in terrorist activities and also to make a fresh effort for a possible resumption of ‘peace talks’ with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Informed sources told Business Recorder that the delegation, to be comprised of senior officials from Foreign Office, defence, security agencies and clerics, will travel to Kabul soon to hold talks with the Afghan interim government authorities on a host of issues, particularly terrorism and the periodic clashes between security forces of the two countries over ‘border disputes’.

“A delegation is being formed to travel to Kabul once ‘certain’ arrangements are finalized, as Afghan interim government authorities have already been informed of the visit,” a source familiar with the development told this correspondent.

About agenda of the talks, multiple sources both in Islamabad and Kabul, maintained that an effort is being made with the Afghan government to bring the TTP back to the table to resume the ‘peace talks’, besides exchanging views on other issues that also include enhancing trade cooperation between the two neighbouring countries and the matters related to Afghan refugees.

On 9 November 2021, the then Pakistani government of ex-Prime Minister Imran Khan and the banned TTP signed a one-month ceasefire after several rounds of ‘secret’ talks in Afghanistan facilitated by the Taliban’s interim government.

As a result of several other round of ‘secret’ talks, including the announced visit by more than 50-member delegation of the tribal elders to Kabul in June 2022, some 100 TTP prisoners were released by the previous government as a “goodwill gesture” following which the two sides claimed progress in the dialogue.

Despite all these efforts, the peace talks stalled and the TTP announced an end to the ceasefire on September 4, 2022 with the consequent killing of a senior TTP leader Omar Khalid Khorasani, the then chief of banned Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, in a bomb blast in Afghanistan which the militant outfit blamed on security agencies of Pakistan.

Following, the killing of Khorasani and refusal of the government of Pakistan to accept contentious demands of the TTP such as enforcement of Sharia laws, reversal of merger of tribal areas with the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the militant outfit resumed its armed campaign against security personnel with the major suicide attack in a mosque in Peshawar Police Lines on January 30, 2023 resulting in more than 100 casualties, majority of which were police personnel.

The TTP though disowned the Peshawar mosque attack, and sources maintained that the suicide attack was carried out by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which has now merged with the TTP, but continues to undertake attacks with or without the permission of the central TTP leadership.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2023

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