The Afghan Taliban leaders have promised to cooperate with Pakistan on its concerns about the presence of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants and sanctuaries on their soil after Islamabad delivered a stark warning to them to rein in the outlawed outfit amid a rise in terror attacks across the country.
The promise came during a day-long trip by a high-level Pakistani delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif to Kabul on Wednesday, amidst the worsening of ties between the two neighbours over the issue, according to a media report.
Pakistan's Foreign Office said the growing TTP and IS-K threat was discussed and the two sides agreed to collaborate to effectively address the threat of terrorism.
The delegation included ISI Chief Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum, Foreign Secretary Asad Majid, Special Envoy on Afghanistan Muhammad Sadiq and Pakistan's charg d'affaires in Afghanistan Obaid Nizamani.
The visit took place days after the TTP gunmen raided the police headquarters in Karachi in which four people including three security personnel lost their lives. Earlier a suicide bomb explosion in Peshawar mosque on January 30 claimed more than 100 lives. The TTP was blamed for the mosque attack as well.
Pakistan has witnessed a surge in TTP violence since peace talks between the militant group and the government began to falter last year. The TTP formally ended the ceasefire on November 28 and since then 58 attacks have been claimed by the group in which 170 people died.
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Many of these attacks were planned and directed by the TTP leadership based in Afghanistan.
A senior Pakistani official said the delegation delivered a pointed message to the Taliban officials that Afghanistan-based TTP elements must be reined in, the Dawn newspaper said.
The visiting delegation met Taliban Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Defence Minister Mawlavi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
Afghan leaders have in the past always rejected the allegations that TTP used their country's soil for attacks in Pakistan, but the official said this time they surprisingly agreed to cooperate on the issue, the report said.
Probably they realised the gravity of the situation, the official further said.
The details of the cooperation against the TTP would be worked out in subsequent meetings between the two sides at the expert and technical levels.
The two sides in their meetings also discussed the broader issues of counter-terrorism and border security cooperation.
The Afghan Taliban, meanwhile, said the two parties had discussed economic cooperation, regional connectivity, trade, and the state of bilateral relations.
Mullah Baradar urged Pakistan not to allow political and security concerns to affect business or economic matters.
The official said the delegation linked to progress on all these ideas for enhancing bilateral cooperation with the Afghan Taliban addressing the concerns about TTP presence in their country, the paper said.
The TTP has increased the attacks in recent months and apparently, it has become stronger since the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban who asked Pakistan to hold talks with the group. But the talks have failed as Islamabad was not ready to accept the demands of the rebels.
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.
Pakistan had hoped that the Afghan Taliban after coming to power would stop the use of their soil against Pakistan by expelling the TTP operatives but they have apparently refused to do so at the cost of straining ties with Islamabad.
The TTP, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, 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.
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