PESHAWAR: Afghan envoy Dr Omar Zakhilwal said it’s neither in Afghanistan's national interest nor their government's policy to harbour militants that threaten Pakistan.
Talking to media at the Afghan consulate in Peshawar on Thursday, Zakhilwal that if the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah is reportedly residing in Afghanistan, “it would be in an area not under the control of Afghan government”.
“It was important that Pakistan and Afghanistan work together to eliminate elements of threats and insecurity on our soils that operate against us,” he maintained.
Mullah Fazlullah has been reportedly hiding in Afghanistan since he fled the military operation in Swat in 2009. He has continued to live in Afghanistan after becoming the head of the TTP following the killing of his predecessor Hakimullah Mehsud in a November 2013 US drone strike.
Pakistan has on a number of occasions in the past demanded of Afghanistan to hand over Fazlullah, but Islamabad’s pleas have gone unheard.
Zakhilwal said that the current environment is conducive for talks between the Afghan government and the Afghan Taliban.
The talks would take place "soon", he said, but did not mention a specific date.
"All stakeholders want to start negotiations... and this time the result of talks will be positive," Zakhilwal said.
The Afghan envoy said some miscreants remain on either side of the border who create misunderstandings between Pakistan and Afghanistan and do not want good relations between them.
He thanked Pakistan for hosting millions of Afghan refugees for decades but also criticised the alleged harassment of refugees at the hands of Pakistani authorities.
"We can tolerate everything, but the insult of refugees is not acceptable... they cannot be kept in jails before the Pakistani government registers them."
Pakistan will host the first round of direct peace talks between the Afghan government and Taliban factions and other insurgents likely to be held this month.
The fourth meeting of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) on Afghan reconciliation in Kabul on Feb 23 agreed on the venue for the dialogue, but stayed short of announcing a date.
The QCG comprises Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and the United States. The four countries have been working together to revive the peace dialogue that stalled last year after it was revealed that Taliban chief Mullah Omar had been dead for over two years.
Pakistan had hosted the inaugural round on July 7 and was set to host the second round when that initiative, dubbed the Murree Process, faltered.
The immediate objective before the Afghan government is to avoid the launch of Taliban’s next spring offensive.
Last year was the bloodiest since the UN began documenting civilian casualties in the conflict in Afghanistan in 2009. Some 11,000 people were killed and wounded in insurgency-related violence last year.
An earlier version of this story incorrectly quoted the Afghan envoy as saying that the TTP chief was residing in Afghanistan. The error is regretted.