Kabul negotiates peace talks between Pakistani Taliban and Islamabad

The Afghan Taliban said Wednesday it was arranging peace talks between Pakistani officials and a Taliban-inspired militant group that has been fighting Islamabad for more than a decade.

Since the Afghan Taliban returned to power last year, Islamabad has increasingly complained of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) attacks, particularly along the mountainous border with Afghanistan.

The TTP is a grassroots movement but shares common roots with Kabul’s new rulers, who Pakistan says are allowing its fighters to mount assaults from Afghan soil.

“Talks have taken place in Kabul between the Pakistani government and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan under the mediation of the Islamic emirate,” government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, using the self-proclaimed name of the official. Afghanistan ruled by the Taliban.

“The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in good faith, strives to complete the negotiation process and expects both sides to be tolerant and flexible,” he said on Twitter.

In a statement, the group also confirmed that “negotiations are underway” under the leadership of the Afghan Taliban.

A previously agreed truce for the Islamic holiday of Eid will also be extended until May 30, the statement said.

An activist source told AFP that “negotiations are taking place in Kabul in a positive atmosphere” but that it would be “premature to draw any conclusions”.

Pakistani government officials have yet to comment on the talks.

The official talks may be an indication that the Taliban are trying to smooth over difficult relations with neighboring Pakistan.

The mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan has long been a hive of militant activity, with the border becoming a source of friction since the Taliban regained power in August.

Islamabad has repeatedly claimed that its forces have been targeted by fighters across the international border.

Last month, Afghan officials said a Pakistani airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed 47 people.

Pakistan did not comment on the strike but urged Kabul to secure its border to prevent militant operations.

The Afghan Taliban described the assault as “cruelty” which “opens the way to enmity between Afghanistan and Pakistan”.

Last year, Pakistan held peace talks with the TTP for a month-long ceasefire, but that truce ultimately failed.

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