Pakistan has said that it expects the Afghan Taliban to address the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as a ‘test case’ in order to solidify the ‘positive relationship’ between the two countries, according to an unnamed senior government official.
“We are telling the Taliban leadership consider the TTP as a test case,” a senior official told The Express Tribune on the condition of anonymity.
Pakistan hopes that the Afghan Taliban will develop a harder stance against the TTP, a move that Pakistan has presented as a high-stakes, trust-building exercise for the interim Afghan Taliban government. Until now, the two governments maintained a stable, if at times strained, diplomatic relationship.
“It will be damaging for the Afghan Taliban if they fail to take into account Pakistan’s concerns,” the official asserted. “A global community, particularly the West will ask look they can’t even satisfy Pakistan so how come they would address terror concerns of other countries.”
“If the Taliban can’t address concerns of Pakistan then who would trust them and their promise of cutting ties to al Qaeda and other such groups,” the official stated.
The Afghan Taliban has struggled to manage its two formidable neighbors. From across the border, the government in Islamabad is one of the Afghan Taliban’s most outspoken supporters. At the recent Organization Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting, Prime Minister Imran Khan delivered a speech urging Muslim world leaders to provide aid and support to Afghanistan.
At the same time, the Afghan Taliban fear that any aggression towards the TTP will corner militants into aligning forces with the Islamic State-Khorasan, also known as Da’ish, another major concern for the government in Kabul.
“It is a complicated process. Afghan Taliban are keen that the TTP no more uses Afghan soil against Pakistan but they are not willing to act against them,” explained another government official.
Recently, negotiations facilitated by the Afghan Taliban between Pakistan and the TTP broke down. According to Director General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Babar Iftikhar, the TTP had demanded several conditions which were non-negotiable for Pakistan.