If the Taliban wish to gain the trust of the international community, they will have to clamp down on the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which is also known as Pakistan Taliban. This message was conveyed to the top leaders of the Taliban government of Afghanistan, including the chief of the group Mullah Hibatullah Akhundzada and the Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani.
“We are telling the Taliban leadership to consider the TTP as a test case, if the Taliban can’t address concerns of Pakistan then who would trust them and their promise of cutting ties to al Qaeda and other such groups,” a Pakistani official told the Pakistani daily Express Tribune.
According to the report, the Pakistani officials made it clear to the Taliban leaders that Pakistan’s main concern is the banned militant TTP which has been creating havoc inside their territory, killing many Pakistani soldiers in restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“All TTP leaders are in Afghanistan under protection of the Taliban. We have been asking the Taliban to hand over them to us, they are fugitives but they are not listening,” says the official.
Pakistani army generals are frustrated and upset with their good old friend – the Taliban who they helped to capture power in Afghanistan. The reason is the extremist Islamist regime has failed to take any action against the TTP which has stepped up attacks against the Pakistani army.
According to the Pakistani army, it was Sirajuddin Haqqani, the Interior Minister of the Taliban regime who pushed them to hold talks with the TTP. This was followed by a month-long ceasefire but on December 9, the TTP unilaterally called off the ceasefire and immediately resumed its attacks on the Pakistani forces.
“The Taliban government told us that they would bring them (TTP) to the table and make them accept what Pakistan wants. However, there were some demands from our side that were non-negotiable,” said Major General Babar Iftikhar, head of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) of the Pakistani army last week.
To rub salt to wounds, the Taliban have opened another front against their Pakistani benefactors by removing the barbed wire fences on the disputed Durand Line – boundary between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
According to Pakistani observers, the Taliban leadership was told that Pakistan was observing “maximum restraint” to avoid any escalation in tensions but there would be a limit to its patience.
The Taliban have shown no signs of expelling TTP leaders or preventing them from carrying out attacks in Pakistan, even as Islamabad leads an effort to get a reluctant world to engage with Afghanistan’s new rulers and salvage the country from economic collapse, says one Pakistani expert.
“It will be damaging for the Afghan Taliban if they fail to take into account Pakistan’s concerns,” the official said, adding that “a global community, particularly the West will ask look they can’t even satisfy Pakistan so how come they would address terror concerns of other countries.”
But the Taliban is in mood to follow the “directives” given by the Pakistani officials and they have given all indications that now they are not dependent solely on Pakistan. There are many who are willing to collaborate with the regime.
More importantly by saying that “we request Pakistan to look into TTP’s demands for the better of the region and Pakistan,” the Taliban have made a very powerful statement regarding its transformation from the militant organisation obligated to Islamabad for providing its safe sanctuary, to an independent entity.
(The story has been published via a syndicated feed.)