The link between the Afghan Taliban and proscribed militant outfits Al-Qaeda and Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) remains “strong and symbiotic”, a report published by the United Nations (UN) said.
The fourteenth report of the Analytical Support and Sanctions Monitoring Team of the UN Security Council’s 1988 Taliban Sanctions Committee — released on Friday — noted that a “range of terrorist groups has greater freedom of manoeuvre under the Taliban de facto authorities”.
“They are making good use of this, and the threat of terrorism is rising in both Afghanistan and the region,” the report read, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com.
“While they have sought to reduce the profile of these groups and conducted maintaining links to numerous terrorist entities, the Taliban have lobbied member states for counter-terrorism assistance in its fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – Khorasan Province (ISIL-K), which it perceives as its principal rival.”
The report said that the Taliban forces have conducted operations against ISIL-K, in general, but they have not delivered on the counter-terrorism provisions under the Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the United States of America and the Taliban.
“There are indications that Al-Qaeda is rebuilding operational capability, that TTP is launching attacks into Pakistan with support from the Taliban, that groups of foreign terrorist fighters are projecting threat across Afghanistan’s borders and that the operations of ISIL-K are becoming more sophisticated and lethal (if not more numerous),” it added.
However, the Afghan Taliban dismissed the report and called it “full of prejudice”.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan considers the continuation of UN Security Council sanctions and such reports as full of prejudice and in conflict with the principles of independence and non-interference, and calls for an end to it,” Taliban government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement today.
Mujahid called the accusations “baseless” and a result of “obvious hostility” with the people of Afghanistan as well as repetition of the “baseless propaganda” of the past 20 years.
“We strongly reject the assessment of this report that the Islamic Emirate is helping the opponents of neighbouring and regional countries or using the territory of Afghanistan against other countries, from the content of this report”.
The Taliban spokesman said it seemed that either the UNSC’s authors did not have access to the information or they “deliberately distorted” the facts or the source of their information was the Islamic Emirate’s fugitive opponents.
“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan insists on its commitments and assures that there is no threat from the territory of Afghanistan to the region, neighbours and countries of the world and it does not allow anyone to use its territory against others,” Mujahid added.
Pakistani security officials have long been saying that the TTP and other anti-Pakistan armed groups operate from Afghan soil.
The Taliban government hosted peace talks between the TTP and Pakistani security officials to put an end to the violence in Pakistan. However, the talks collapsed last year over tough conditions from both sides.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif led a high-powered delegation in talks with senior Taliban leaders in Kabul in February with a single-point agenda to take action against the TTP.
There have been no cross-border attacks from the Afghan side for months, however, there has been a spike in the TTP attacks since the group ended a ceasefire in November.
The government has also stopped talks with the TTP and launched intelligence-based operations against the group, mainly in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.