WASHINGTON: When asked to help catch Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah, who is said to be in Afghanistan, the US has urged Pakistan to go after Afghan Taliban leadership.

Fazlullah fled to Afghanistan in November 2007 when security forces captured his headquarters in Swat. Media reports claim that he is based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province from where he directs TTP attacks in Pakistan.

“We continue to cooperate closely with Afghanistan, certainly, but also urge Pakistan to go after terrorists, especially (Afghan) Taliban leadership, and that cooperation continues,” said US State Department spokesman Mark Toner when asked what efforts were being made to locate Fazlullah.

In November 2009, Fazlullah told the BBC’s Urdu Service that he was based in Afghanistan and vowed to continue attacking targets inside Pakistan.

The State Department statement indicates that the United States wants Pakistan also to act against the Afghan Taliban leaders allegedly hiding inside its territory in return for US help in targeting TTP leaders in Afghanistan.

The TTP is not directly affiliated with the Afghan Taliban movement, although they often help each other in carrying out terrorist attacks.

The Afghan Taliban focus on US, Nato and Afghan security forces in Afghanistan but oppose targeting the Pakistani state. The TTP has almost exclusively focused on targets inside Pakistan, although it took credit for the 2009 Camp Chapman attack in Afghanistan and the 2010 Times Square car bombing attempt.

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2016