Afghan Foreign Ministry says ‘giving sanctuaries to terrorist groups on Afghan soil is contrary to anti-terrorism policies of Afghan govt’
Senior Afghan military officials have told their Pakistani counterparts that sheltering Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) chief Mullah Fazlullah and other terrorists has never been the policy of the government, the Afghan Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
Pakistani officials in high-level security talks in Rawalpindi on Thursday reiterated that TTP chief Mullah Fazlullah, along with other Pakistani Taliban leaders, operate from Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province, the Afghan Foreign Ministry spokesperson said.
“However, Afghan officials, while responding to Pakistan’s claims, said that giving sanctuaries to terrorist groups on Afghan soil is contrary to the anti-terrorism policies of the Afghan government. Such policy is beyond thinking. The Afghan side insisted that Afghanistan, being a major victim of terrorism, has always proved its sincerity in the war on terror,” the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said in a statement.
Senior military officials from Afghanistan and Pakistan met in Rawalpindi on Thursday, nearly a week after President Hamid Karzai’s top security adviser Rangin Dadfar Spanta met Pakistani leaders. Both sides agreed to establish a joint working group on security issues.
The talks in the General Headquarters Rawalpindi were held for follow-up discussions on issues raised during Spanta’s meetings with the prime minister, the army chief and other senior officials.
The Afghan Foreign Ministry statement said that both sides made commitments to take action and eliminate all “terrorist groups, including the Haqqani Network and the Quetta Shura”, a reference to the Afghan Taliban. Islamabad denies the presence of the so-called Quetta Shura.
The Afghan delegation, led by Major Gen Afzal Aman — the director general military operations of the Afghan army, comprised members of the National Security Council, Afghan army intelligence and representatives of the Afghan border police forces.
A Pakistani military statement said on Thursday that the issue of “terrorists’ sanctuaries in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces of Afghanistan, and attacks on Pakistani border villages and posts from those sanctuaries came under discussion.”
The Afghan Foreign Ministry said that the Afghan delegation “shared information and evidence” with Pakistani security officials about “cross-border shelling by the country’s military”.
“The Afghan delegation conveyed serious concerns of the Afghan government and Afghan people over the cross-border shelling and called for an immediate halt to cross-border violations.”
The two sides also discussed to put in place a mechanism that would enable the security and intelligence institutions of both countries to share information about terrorists’ activities along the border and to have better coordination in the fight against terrorism and to build mutual trust.
“The meeting was in a friendly atmosphere, and the parties agreed that more practical confidence-building measures should be taken to create harmony for the joint anti-terror fight,” the Afghan Foreign Ministry said.
They agreed to hold the next meeting in Kabul, the date for which will be announced later.