Pakistan today expressed “deep concern” over the presence of Pakistani Taliban leaders in Afghanistan in the wake of media reports that Afghan intelligence was trying to cultivate an alliance with the banned group.
We have deep concerns about the presence of (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan commander) Latif Mehsud on Afghan
soil,” Foreign Office spokesman Aizaz Chaudhry told a weekly news briefing.
The New York Times reported that US Special Forces in Afghanistan had recently raided a convoy that was ushering TTP
deputy chief Latif Mehsud to Kabul for secret talks.
The Americans now have Mehsud in custody.
The report said the “bungled attempt by the Afghan government to cultivate a shadowy alliance with Islamist
militants” had escalated into the latest flashpoint in the relationship between Afghanistan and the US.
It claimed the US had disrupted the plan of Afghan intelligence to work with the Pakistan Taliban to find a trump
card in a “baroque regional power game that is likely to intensify after the American withdrawal next year”.
According to the Times, the Afghan government decided to recruit proxies by seeking to aid the Pakistan Taliban in
their fight against Pakistan’s security forces.
Chaudhry said it was a matter of concern that Afghan soil was being used for attacks in Pakistan.
Latif Mehsud started as a driver for a militia leader but rapidly rose through the ranks. He recently became the
right-hand man of TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud.
Asked when the Afghan High Peace Council would visit Pakistan to meet former Afghan Taliban deputy chief Mullah
Baradar, Chaudhry said, “We have so far received no confirmation of its visit.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s Special Assistant on Foreign Affairs Tariq Fatemi said yesterday the High Peace Council was welcome to visit Pakistan and meet Baradar, the highest-ranking Afghan Taliban prisoner freed so far.
Pakistan has released 34 Taliban detainees but the measure has not produced expected results, analysts say.
Kabul feels Baradar is a key figure in its efforts to kick-start the stalled peace process as NATO combat troops
prepare to pull out by the end of 2014.
Chaudhry said: “He is free to meet and contact anyone to advance the peace process.”