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Afghan soil still being used by TTP for attacks on Pakistan: defence minister

ISLAMABAD, APR 11: Defence Minister Khawaja Asif has said that the proscribed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is still using Afghan soil for launching attacks on Pakistan — especially in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP).

“Islamabad has good relations with the ruling Taliban government in Kabul. However, the Afghan authorities have not succeeded in stopping the use of their territory in attacks on Pakistan,” he said in an interview with the US broadcaster, Voice of America.

The matter, the federal minister said, had been brought up and discussed last month when a meeting between a high-ranking delegation — including Asif and the ISI DG Lt Gen Nadeem Anjum — and Afghan officials.

“During the meeting”, the defence minister said, “The Taliban expressed their determination to deal with this problem.”

The Afghan authorities said that they would not allow their land to be used for terrorism against any country, Asif added.

He further said that he believed the Afghan Taliban were “distancing” themselves from the proscribed outfit, however, due to the fact that they fought against Nato together in the past, certain “camaraderie” exists between the two sides.

During his interview, Khawaja Asif also alleged that the resettlement of TTP leaders in Pakistan was done through a “programme”.

“[Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) and former prime minister] Imran Khan has been signalling throughout his political career that he is ideologically supportive of the Taliban. At various points the international media has even referred to him as “Taliban Khan”, he said.

He added that the TTP was in possession of the advanced equipment left behind by the US after its withdrawal, further alleging that India too is still helping them.

Stating that the people of tribal areas and KP were not ready to ‘co-exist’ with the Taliban, the defence minister said: “It is noteworthy that people are protesting unarmed against the return of the Taliban.”

He also shared that the Taliban were “undermining their gains through restrictions on women”.

Speaking on the matter of the political scenario in Pakistan, Khawaja Asif said that Imran Khan’s “stance keeps changing”.

“Imran Khan is blaming the army. I don’t know where Imran Khan stands regarding the US and the army at this time. Starting from America, he has now reached the Punjab IG for conspiring against him.

“I don’t understand from his recent statements, whether he stands with the establishment or not, and whether he wants negotiations with the government or not.

“There is no clear stand for them. Asad Qaiser and others talk about dialogue. It should be a national dialogue in which the establishment, the media, and members of civil society are present. Only then can national dialogue be successful.”

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