Pakistan security officials in Kabul
Photo: Mullah Baradar's office

Pakistan threatens direct action against TTP sanctuaries inside Afghanistan

A senior Pakistan security official has revealed that the Pakistani delegation, headed by the country’s defense minister and the head of the ISI, warned Afghan Taliban leaders during their visit to Kabul last week that they were prepared to target the Pakistani Taliban’s sanctuaries inside Afghanistan.

Pakistan defence minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, and the head of the country’s intelligence agency (ISI), General Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, visited Kabul on 22 February and met top Taliban leaders, including the group’s deputy prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar and defence minister, Mullah Yaqoob.

“Our delegation delivered a very loud and clear message to Afghan Taliban leadership to stop Afghanistan-based militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) from launching any spring offensive inside Pakistan and eliminate them from Afghan soil,” a Pakistani security official, who was part of the delegation in Kabul, told Anadolu news agency.

“In case of failure to stop the TTP from cross-border attacks and does not take any action to eliminate them or expel them from their hideouts, then Pakistan has no other choice except to target their hideouts in border areas inside Afghanistan,” the official, said.

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The Taliban leaders, according to reports, denied TTP hideouts inside Afghanistan but were presented with “irrefutable evidence” of the Pakistani group’s activities in the country.

Taliban leaders meeting the Pakistani delegation, according to Anadolu, especially Mullah Yaqoob, complained that Pakistan allowed the US to use its airspace to conduct operations in Afghanistan.

There have been reports of unknown drones flying over Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, since the Taliban’s return to power in August.

Pakistan and the Taliban issued separate statements regarding the topics discussed between the two sides in Kabul last week. Pakistan highlighted threats posed by terrorist outfits, particularly by the TTP, which were discussed at the meeting while the Taliban added that they also discussed drones that violated Afghanistan’s airspace.

The Pakistani official quoted by Anadolu said that “We have no other option but to target militants’ hideouts in border areas inside Afghanistan,” if the Taliban fails to act against TTP hideouts.

According to media reports in Pakistan, the Taliban have offered to help disarm the TTP, provided that the Pakistani government bears the financial costs.