ISLAMABAD, May 17 (PTI): A Pakistani delegation led by a former ISI chief has reportedly held talks in Afghanistan with the representatives of the banned terror group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) involved in scores of deadly attacks on Pakistani security forces, a media report said on Tuesday.
Members of the group and official sources in Kabul confirmed to the state-owned US radio broadcaster Voice of America the presence of Peshawar Corps Commander Lt General Faiz Hameed in Kabul on Monday for the talks with the TTP mediated by the Haqqani Network.
“Faiz Hameed, head of Peshawar army corps command, along with his delegation had arrived in Kabul for negotiations with the TTP,” Afghan journalist Bill Sarwary tweeted.
Hameed served as the Director General of Inter-Services Intelligence from June 2019 to November 2021.
However, there was no official confirmation from either side about the development but reports suggested that it was part of a renewed push by the Afghan Taliban to broker some kind of a deal between Pakistan and the TTP, The Express Tribune reported quoting Afghan journalists and sources.
Gen Faiz, as head of the ISI, had been instrumental in brokering a deal between the US and the Afghan Taliban. His reported presence in Kabul seems to stem from his close connections with the Afghan Taliban as well as his experience in handling them, the report said.
The talks with the banned TTP took place against the backdrop of a surge in terrorist attacks in Pakistan in recent months.
Contrary to Pakistan’s expectations, since the return of the Taliban to power in Kabul in mid-August last year, there has been an increase in terrorist attacks targeting Pakistani security forces. This year alone, over 120 Pakistani security officials including officers have been killed in attacks mostly carried out by the outlawed TTP.
This has mounted pressure on the Afghan government to take action against the TTP and its affiliates currently operating out of the country.
In April, when terrorists launched cross-border attacks leaving Pakistani soldiers dead, Pakistani Air force jets reportedly pounded the hideouts of the TTP across the border.
Pakistan has not publically acknowledged those strikes but officials privately said the message was clear that the country would not tolerate cross-border terrorist attacks anymore, the report said.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office at that time issued a strong statement, saying despite calls for action; terrorist groups were operating out of Afghanistan with impunity.
Official sources said after Pakistan’s warning, the Taliban government agreed to take a series of steps to stop cross-border terrorist attacks. As part of the measures, some terrorists were relocated from the border regions.
But Pakistan has been demanding clear action against those groups. Because of the pressure, the Afghan Taliban once again made efforts to mediate some kind of peace deal between Pakistan and the TTP, the report said.
The latest talks are believed to be part of those efforts as the Taliban government is reluctant to take any action against the TTP and instead is keen to find a way out through talks, it said.
It is believed that even when the banned TTP was mounting cross-border terrorist attacks, scores of family members of terrorists, who were not directly involved in any violent attacks, were allowed to return home and their rehabilitation had already been underway, it added.
The repatriation of “white family members” meaning those who were not directly involved in terrorist activities is part of a two-pronged strategy to reach out to the reconcilable elements within terrorist outfits.
Pakistan wants to isolate hardcore elements of the TTP and its affiliates.