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Taliban rebuffs Pak pressure, points to GHQ’s ties with ISIS

NewsTaliban rebuffs Pak pressure, points to GHQ’s ties with ISIS

NEW DELHI: The unannounced visit by a high-level Pakistani delegation to Kabul on Wednesday has brought out the precarious situation the country is in with respect to its ability to fight armed groups and its deteriorating ties with the Taliban which, like India, is experiencing violent attacks from GHQ-Rawalpindi-backed non-state actors such as the Islamic State (ISIS) or the Daesh.
The delegation, which comprised Pak Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Nadeem Anjum, Foreign Secretary Asad Majid and Special Envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Muhammad Sadiq, asked the Taliban government to do whatever it could to stop the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from attacking Pakistani forces.
People aware of the matter revealed to The Sunday Guardian that the delegation told the Taliban that if they did not use their influence over TTP to stop the attacks on the Pakistan army, then Pakistan, among other steps, would stop the entry of Afghan citizens into Pak territory and use its diplomatic “power” to attack the Afghanistan government at international forums. Afghans go to Pakistan mostly for medical treatment. However, this “soft-threat” is unlikely to make any real impact on the ground, sources who are a part of this entire development, told The Sunday Guardian on Thursday.
According to these sources, much of the TTP’s fighting forces were already entrenched in Pakistan and whatever part of it was operating from within Afghanistan, would leave the country within five months, as per their pre-decided plan of operation.
These sources stated that the TTP would continue to carry out armed operations against the Pakistan army, irrespective of the talks that have happened between the Taliban government and the Pakistan delegation.
According to them, the TTP had been gradually moving its cadre to the Af-Pak area much before the Pakistani delegation arrived in Kabul on Wednesday. They denied that the TTP was looking or was being forced to shift its men from Afghanistan to Pakistan under directions from the Taliban.
According to a source who is not a part of TTP, the ties between the TTP and Taliban leadership were “very friendly” and are unlikely to deteriorate in the coming months despite Pakistan’s pressure.
One of the primary problems that the Taliban leadership has with Pakistan is the ISI using the Islamic State (ISIS or Daesh) as an extension of the Pakistan army in an attempt to eliminate key Taliban and TTP leadership to force them to come to the discussion table.
The fact that Taliban wanted the world to be aware of the link between Pakistan and ISIS became evident when a secret memo prepared by the Taliban defence ministry, detailing ISIS’ training camps in Pakistan and fighters getting trained there, was leaked to the media on 16 January this year.
The military leadership in Pakistan is banking on technological support from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to take out key TTP leadership as was made evident by the Biden administration on Wednesday. The spokesperson of the US State Department on Wednesday, while addressing the media in Washington, referred to the “shared interest” that the two countries have when it comes to handling terrorism.
“The United States and Pakistan have a shared interest in ensuring the Taliban live up to the commitments that they have made, and that terrorist groups that may be active in Afghanistan, like ISIS-K, TTP, al-Qaida, as you mentioned, are no longer able to threaten regional stability,” said Ned Price, the spokesperson, while referring to the US investment in Pakistan which he claimed was the highest it’s been in over a decade. According to him, US corporations have announced more than $1.5 billion in investment plans in Pakistan since 2019, with US companies and their local affiliates being among Pakistan’s largest employers, with roughly 80 US companies directly employing more than 120,000 Pakistanis.
According to people in Kabul, Pakistan at the present did not have much leverage over the Taliban-led government which is evident from the fact that Islamabad was forced to send a high-level delegation to a country whose government it has not even recognised. This visit came after the Pakistan government’s threats of entering Afghanistan and attacking the TTP led to similar responses from the Taliban.
Sources said that the Pakistan army is not in a position to carry out armed operations against the TTP, as this would have invariably led to the army violating the sovereignty of Afghanistan, something which the Taliban government is already very sensitive about, leaving the army the option of using drone attacks which come with a strong deniability factor.
As per Pakistani intelligence assessment, TTP was in a position to carry out attacks even in the urban military areas of the country and this was perhaps one reason for the Wednesday reachout to the Taliban. As of now, it holds considerable sway in areas of South Waziristan, North Waziristan, Tank, Bannu and Lakki Marwat.

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