Amir Khan Muttaqi, the Acting Foreign Minister of Afghanistan, is expected to visit Islamabad as the two neighbouring countries continue to struggle to find common ground on how to deal with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and its affiliates.
Sources informed The Express Tribune on Wednesday that Islamabad and Kabul are currently in contact with each other to finalise the date for the visit of the Taliban’s chief diplomat. The visit is expected to take place in the coming weeks, according to the sources.
Muttaqi had previously undertaken his maiden trip to Islamabad in November 2021, just months after the Afghan Taliban returned to power.
Pakistan had hoped that the Taliban takeover would improve border security and importantly the issue of terrorist sanctuaries would be sorted out. But contrary to expectations, the TTP-sponsored attacks have only increased causing friction in bilateral ties. Efforts by the Afghan Taliban to mediate a peace deal between Pakistan and the TTP have failed.
At a recent meeting of the National Security Committee, the country’s civil and military leadership admitted that a policy to make peace with the TTP had led to the rise in terrorism.
The stance taken by the current government and establishment means that Pakistan would no longer seek any talks with the TTP.
In February, a high-powered delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and comprising the DG ISI and other senior officials visited Kabul and gave the Afghan Taliban a stern warning to tackle the TTP threat.
Pakistan confronted the Taliban government with evidence of TTP presence and their whereabouts. The Afghan intelligence officials travelled to Islamabad following the Pakistani delegation’s visit to sort out the issue.
Against this backdrop, the likely visit of the Afghan foreign minister would be significant.
Meanwhile, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Hina Rabbani Khar will lead the Pakistani delegation in the fourth meeting of the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, to be held in Samarkand on April 13.
On the sidelines of the meeting, Khar will hold bilateral meetings with leaders of other participating delegations.
The Neighbouring Countries of Afghanistan mechanism was established in 2021 on Pakistan’s initiative with a view to evolving a regional approach to the situation in Afghanistan.
Pakistan hosted the first meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Neighbouring Countries on September 8, 2021, and participated in the second meeting held in Tehran, Iran in November 2021, and the third meeting held in Tunxi, China in March 2022.
The mechanism will contribute towards forging a consensus among the neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, who are the most direct stakeholders of the situation in Afghanistan.
Pakistan will continue to support all efforts to advance the shared objectives of a peaceful, stable, sovereign, prosperous and connected Afghanistan.