Afghanistan: Afghan foreign minister rules out anti-Pakistani elements on its soil

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan’s interim foreign minister, Amir Khan Muttaqi, has ruled out the presence of anti-Pakistani elements in his country, saying the causes of the conflict that existed have been eliminated.
Muttaqi was on a three-day visit to Pakistan. He was specially invited by Pakistan to attend the meeting of the Troika Plus, a group consisting of Pakistan, China, Russia and the United States, on Afghanistan. At a meeting on Thursday, US, Chinese and Russian representatives gave a clear message to the Taliban government to fulfill its international legal obligations, including universally accepted principles of international law and fundamental human rights.
Speaking at a separate event in Islamabad on Friday, the Afghan envoy said the Taliban had cleared all areas of anti-government elements that threaten others.
“We are trying our best and trying not to allow the territory of Afghanistan to be used against anyone. The people of this region have suffered a lot and we should not let this suffering continue,” the minister said.
On Pakistan’s talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Muttaki said there have been some improvements. “We hope for a positive outcome of the talks. The ceasefire has taken place between the TTP and the Pakistani government and we hope this process will be extended,” he said.
The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has given Pakistan an opportunity to use its leverage on authorities in the war-torn country. One of the biggest challenges Pakistan faces from across its western border has been the presence of the Pakistani Taliban there. The TTP is a terrorist organization formed by its first leader, Baitullah Mehsud, in 2007 after the merger of dozens of armed groups. The group’s goal is to replace the government of Pakistan with an Islamic system that was in place in Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001. It can be described as a Pakistani affiliate of the Afghan Taliban.
The Pakistani Taliban have always fought on the side of their Afghan counterparts against Western forces and those of the previous Afghan government.
When the Afghan Taliban were expelled from Afghanistan in 2001, their Pakistani comrades provided them with shelter in the tribal areas, including in their own homes. The Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani Network have begun their spring offensives from their safe havens in Pakistan. Before the start of spring, the Taliban used to cross into Afghanistan to carry out attacks against U.S.-led Western and Afghan forces. After realizing their goals, they would return to their bases in North Waziristan and other tribal areas along the Pakistan-Afghan border.
The Haqqani Network’s first suicide bomber to carry out an attack in Afghanistan was trained by Baitullah Mehsud, the TTP’s first leader. After the fall of Kabul on August 15, Anas Haqqani, son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, founder of the Haqqani Network, visited the suicide bomber’s grave to pay tribute. It is believed that the Afghan Taliban have not forgotten that support.
Following the Taliban’s return to power, Islamabad’s first and foremost demand of them was to use their influence to stop the TTP from using their country for terrorist attacks against Pakistan. Pakistan has turned to Sirajuddin Haqqani, the interior minister in the Taliban government of Afghanistan and leader of the Haqqani Network, for help in starting negotiations with the Pakistani Taliban, a source familiar with Islamabad’s ongoing negotiations with the TTP said.
The Haqqanis and the Afghan Taliban later facilitated talks, which culminated in a month-long ceasefire since 9 November.

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