Photo: Tehran Times

TTP relocation in Afghanistan will lead to cross-border peace, Pakistani envoy says

Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan Affairs, Asif Durrani has recently welcomed the Taliban’s move to relocate thousands of Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) members across the northern regions in Afghanistan, saying it will lead to cross-border peace.

The Pakistani envoy stated in an interview with Voice of America (VOA) on Saturday that Pakistan remains “optimistic” about the Taliban plan to address cross-border terror concerns. However, he added time will tell how effective it would prove.

Durrani called Taliban’s relocation of TTP members in Afghanistan a “serious” issue and asserted that necessary steps are being taken to “neutralize” the TTP threat.

“We should also understand that it will take a while, but the process has been initiated,” Durrani told VOA, responding to the recent Taliban announcement that TTP members were being moved away from Afghanistan areas bordering Pakistan.

“But if this relocation of TTP can actually happen and lead to peace along our borders, it would be a significant development and we would welcome it,” Durrani added.

The TTP, or the Pakistani Taliban, has resurged in Pakistan following the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021, raging deadly attacks against the Pakistani security forces and civilians. Islamabad has been pressing Kabul to rein in cross-border TTP violence and complaining that the group enjoys “greater operational freedom” under Taliban rule.

In late 2021, the Taliban authorities facilitated peace talks between Pakistan and TTP which led to a brief ceasefire, but the negotiations soon failed.

The Pakistani government announced that it rejects further negotiations with the TTP, and instead demanded the Taliban to close down the TTP hideouts in Afghanistan. Pakistan also carried out cross-border air strikes against TTP sanctuaries which exasperated the Taliban.

Recent reports suggest that the Taliban and the Pakistani government reached a “strategic deal” where the former vowed to relocate TTP members across tribal belts bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan, triggering concerns and outrage. Opposition groups warned that TTP relocation would have “fatal” consequences for the stability of the country.

Last month, local sources revealed that the Taliban initiated the relocation of TTP members to Afghanistan, with around 320 armed fighters being moved to northeastern Takhar province.