WASHINGTON: Afghan­istan’s chief executive Abdullah Abdullah has said that Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has a foothold in Afghanistan and did so by taking advantage of the instability created by the insurgents fighting the Afghan government.

In a meeting with editors of the Voice of America radio in Washington on Wednesday afternoon, Mr Abdullah urged Pakistan to see the situation with “clarity” and back international efforts to defeat terrorism in South Asia.

Mr Abdullah is the second most powerful person in the Afghan government and also has a strong hold over the Afghan establishment.

His acknowledgement of the TTP’s foothold in Afghanistan is the first by an Afghan leader and backs Pakistan’s claim that the Pakistani Taliban are using their camps in Afghanistan to launch attacks into Pakistan.

Mr Abdullah, however, said that the Afghan government did not support any terrorist group and was against all those forces which try to destabilise states and governments, whether in Kabul or in other capitals.

“We call it insecure areas in Afghanistan,” he said referring to the areas where TTP had established a foothold.

However, he clarified that Afghanistan did not differentiate between terrorist gro­ups no matter “wherever they belong, whatever their aims”, adding that the Kabul government knew that “their [terrorists’] goals were against states and nations”.

Insisting that the Afghan government did not allow any terrorist activity on its soil, Mr Abdullah said: “There have been cases where one side of the claim by our neighbouring country is right that TTP is a threat to Pakistan”.

The Afghan leader, however, refused to accept responsibility for TTP’s activities, saying that the “TTP was not created in Afghanistan but was created at different times, for different purposes, and then they turned against the state and its institutions”.

He also rejected the suggestion that friendly relations between Pakistan and China was a cause of concern for Kabul.

“The fact that China and Pakistan have good relations is an opportunity to be utilised. And China is also concerned about terrorism and separatist activities on its own soil,” he said.

Responding to a question about alleged Taliban sanctuaries in Federally Administered Tribal Areas, Mr Abdullah said that the issue of sanctuaries was an important issue but also indicated that despite its concerns, the Afghan government wanted to improve its relations with Pakistan.

He also supported his government’s decision to inc­lude Afghan leader Gul­badin Hekmatyar into the government, adding that Kabul would also welcome reconciliation with the Taliban.

Published in Dawn, November 17th, 2017

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