Islamabad: Afghanistan’s interim Taliban regime Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi has asked Pakistan and the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) to sit together for a dialogue, amid a sharp increase in deadly attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent months.
“It is requested that Pakistan and TTP sit together for dialogue,” Muttaqi, who is here on a four-day visit to Pakistan to attend bilateral and trilateral dialogues, said while addressing an event in Islamabad on Monday, Geo News reported.
Pakistan had held several rounds of talks – brokered by the Afghan Taliban – with the TTP but the negotiations failed last year after which the militant group resumed terror activities. Pakistan has witnessed a surge in TTP violence since the militant group formally ended the ceasefire on November 28.
The TTP has become a thorny issue between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan expected the Afghan Taliban to address its concerns regarding the TTP after its return to power in August 2021. But contrary to the expectations, the TTP attacks only went up.
The TTP, which has ideological linkages with the Afghan Taliban and is also known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.
The Afghan Taliban’s reluctance to take on the TTP stemmed from its fears that the group’s fighters might join Da’esh (Islamic State). Second, the Afghan Taliban and the TTP share the same ideology as they fought alongside the US-led foreign forces.
Nevertheless, the two sides have been trying to find a way out of the TTP problem as it has threatened to undermine their future cooperation, according to the paper.
Pakistan’s Defence Minister Khawaja Asif last month warned Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers about targeting terrorist hideouts inside the war-torn neighbouring country if the latter were unable to rein in anti-Pakistan militants. He had earlier said that the banned TTP was using Afghan soil for carrying out attacks in Pakistan.
The TTP, which is believed to have close links to al-Qaeda, has in the past also threatened to target Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari if the ruling coalition continued to implement strict measures against the militants.
The TTP was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.
The group has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
In 2012, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai was attacked by TTP. She suffered bullet injuries and was admitted to the Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar and then taken to London for further treatment. The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack, saying that Yousafzai was a “Western-minded girl”.
In 2014, the Pakistani Taliban stormed the Army Public School (APS) in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least 150 people, including 131 students. The attack sent shockwaves across the world and was widely condemned.