Pakistan, Taliban Officials Talk on ‘Terrorism Threat’ After Deadly Attacks
Pakistan’s defense minister and spy chief held talks with Taliban government officials in Kabul Wednesday on ways to counter the “threat of terrorism,” days after Islamabad blamed Afghanistan-based militants for deadly recent attacks.
Pakistan accuses the Afghan Taliban of harboring militants from its own home-grown version of the Islamist group, a charge Kabul denies.
Afghan officials led by deputy Prime Minister Abdul Ghani Baradar met Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja Muhammad Asif and Nadeem Anjum, head of the Inter-Services Intelligence agency.
They discussed “bilateral relations, trade, regional connectivity, and economic cooperation between the two countries,” Baradar’s office said.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry confirmed the talks.
“Matters relating to the growing threat of terrorism in the region, particularly by TTP and ISKP came under discussion,” it said in a statement late on Wednesday, referring to Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and the local Afghan chapter of the jihadist Islamic State.
Pakistan has seen a dramatic increase in militant attacks, mainly in border regions, in the year-and-a-half of Taliban rule in Afghanistan.
However, a suicide squad also stormed a police compound in the southern port city of Karachi last Friday, killing five people.
A suicide bomber killed more than 80 police officers at a mosque in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in January.
Both attacks were linked to the TTP, which has deep ties with the Afghan Taliban.
The Taliban authorities, meanwhile, announced that the main border crossing between the two countries would reopen from Thursday.
Officials on both sides said Afghan authorities closed the Torkham border late Sunday after Pakistan imposed new rules preventing entry to those accompanying medical patients without the right documentation.
Gunfire erupted on Monday morning at the border, with both sides blaming the other for the violence.
Also at the weekend, Pakistan Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari told the Munich Security Conference that Afghanistan had to deliver on promises not to harbor militants.
“There’s a whole alphabet soup of terrorist organisations that have and still do base themselves out of Afghanistan,” he said.
Kabul’s foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Qahar Balkhi said in response Zardari’s remarks “are untrue.”