ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office on Friday expressed its disappointment with the Afghan Taliban’s response to Islamabad’s demands for action against terrorist groups, particularly the Afghanistan-based Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch, during a weekly media briefing, emphasised Pakistan’s growing concerns over the presence and activities of these terrorist groups in Afghanistan.

Ms Baloch stated: “With respect to the terrorist groups, which have sanctuaries and hideouts in Afghanistan, Pakistan has serious concerns about their continued presence as these individuals and entities continue to attack Pakistan and cause loss of life inside Pakistan.”

The spokesperson’s comments come amid a strained relationship between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s de facto Taliban government. Pakistan has been increasingly frustrated with the Taliban’s inaction against the TTP, which has been involved in numerous terrorist attacks within Pakistan.

FO stresses continued engagement with Afghan leadership, says Pakistani aid reaching Gaza through Rafah

Despite initial efforts by the Afghan Taliban to encourage peace talks between the Pakistan government and the TTP, negotiations failed, leading to heightened tensions.

Ms Baloch further reiterated Pakist­an’s call for “effective, meaningful ac­­t­i­­o­­n” ag­­ainst Afghanistan-based TTP, stati­­ng that concrete results are yet to be seen.

“We are obviously very disappointed that we have not seen the kind of results that we have expected from the Afghan authorities,” she said.

In response to the Taliban’s inaction, Pakistani authorities have taken strict measures, including the expulsion of Afghans residing illegally in the country, restrictions on Afghan transit trade, and the implementation of a ‘one document regime’. This regime has ended the entry of Afghans living along the border on temporary border passes, to Pakistan.

Ms Baloch, however, emphasised the importance of continued communication with Kabul.

“We believe that the channels of communication should continue and we wou­ld continue to impress on Afghan authorities to take effective action aga­inst these terrorist groups,” Ms Baloch added.

The situation highlights the complex dynamics between Pakistan and the Taliban-led Afghanistan. The Afghan Taliban’s response to Pakistani demands would be a critical factor in shaping the future of relations between the two neighboring countries.

Asked about the government’s drive for evicting unregistered Afghans illegally living in Pakistan, she said the government was very satisfied with the number of individuals who are leaving for Afghanistan voluntarily and the number of forced repatriations was very small compared to the voluntary repatriations taking place.

Palestine

According to APP, with respect to the Palestine issue, the FO spokesperson reaffirmed Pakistan’s support for Palestinians in their time of great ordeal and trauma.

“We are disappointed that after a brief pause, Israel has restarted bombing the Palestinian people. The temporary pause offered a crucial respite to the suffering people of Gaza and allowed exchange of prisoners,” she added.

She said the international community should take immediate and decisive steps to bring an end to Israel’s campaign of terror against the Palestinian civilians.

As regards the humanitarian assistance dispatched by Pakistan for the Palestinians, the spokesperson said that Pakistan’s assistance had reached Gaza through the Rafah crossing.

Published in Dawn, December 2nd, 2023

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