Taliban assure Pakistan ‘TTP will not be allowed to use Afghan land’

ISLAMABAD – Days after some members of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were released by Taliban after taking over Kabul, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed on Monday said that Taliban have assured the government that the banned group would not be allowed to operate from Afghanistan against Pakistan.

Addressing a press conference here at the Ministry of Interior, the minister said some TTP members including Maulvi Faqir Mohammad had been released by Taliban in Afghanistan after they took over Kabul on August 15, and the government was in full contact with the Taliban on the issue. 

“The present Afghan Taliban (leadership) have assured us that TTP would not be allowed to use Afghanistan’s land in any case,” he said adding that the response from other side came after the related authorities in Afghanistan were told by Pakistan that these people had been involved in committing terrorism in Pakistan. “We pray for the peace and stability in Afghanistan and we wish this because Afghanistan’s peace is linked with Pakistan,” he said.

He also said that Pakistan stood by the world to attain peace in the neighbouring country.

In the past, Pakistan had been asking the West-backed government in Afghanistan that TTP was using the Afghan soil against Pakistan. The banned group has remained involved in a number of terrorism activities, including attacks on armed forces, in Pakistan. Last week, Foreign Office had said that it would ask the incoming government in Afghanistan to act against the group.

We have issued visas to 4000 people including Afghan cricket team: Sh Rashid

Briefing reporters about the efforts of Pakistan to evacuate foreigners, Pakistanis and Afghan nationals from Afghanistan, Sheikh Rashid said Pakistan has given immigration to 1277 people including US and Afghan nationals besides 500 other travellers who are in lounges and would be provided transit through Pakistan. He said that other 874 people have entered Pakistan through Torkham border crossing and more than 4,000 visas had been issued in total. He said the interior ministry was also ramping up its capacity in case more visas need to be issued. 

The interior minister said that members of the Afghan cricket team had been issued visas as well. He further said that one-month visas-on-arrival were being provided to diplomats and officials of international organizations such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

He also said that Pakistan had no connection with the situation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul. “Kabul Airport has become focus of the world,” he said adding that it was not their responsibility to gather people from differing parts of war-torn country to bring them to the airport.

He also said that Pakistan has no objection on requests made by the European Union and other countries to park their planes in Pakistan for transportation and other matters.

Talking about the recent attacks on Chinese nationals, the interior minister said that China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) was the “jugular vein” of Pakistan’s economy but “international conspiracies” are being hatched against the project. “Some hidden hands did not want to see that Pakistan should move ahead on CPEC and the project has become important due to Afghan situation but the government was committed to taking it further.”

He said the Pakistan Army was providing security and protection to 40 companies operating under CPEC but the recent terrorist attacks such as the Dasu attack, Fisher Colony suicide attack in Gwadar and a blast in Quetta’s Serena Hotel indicate that “people want to play with the lives of Chinese who are not only out friends but also the well-wishers of Pakistan.”

The minister said that he in a meeting had assured Chinese Ambassador Nong Rong of providing complete security to Chinese workers, and all of Pakistan’s institutions were working in this connection.

He said some suspects had been arrested while they knew about others in all major attacks that were carried out on Chinese recently. “We have reached the details of the Fisher Colony incident as well,” he said.

Responding to a question, the interior minister said that the government had taken no decision if Afghan refugees came into Pakistan but faced no influx of refugees at the moment and anyone coming to border was being facilitated

About the foreigners staying illegally in Pakistan, he said that the interior ministry has waived off their fines, imposed due to their over-stay, till August 30 and they should apply online visas and leave the country at earliest.

To a question about giving permission to PML-N leader Maryam Nawaz to fly to London to attend the marriage ceremony of her son, the interior minister said that she didn’t seek permission from Ministry of Interior and her case would have been forwarded to cabinet if she would have done so. He said that PPP leader Sharjeel Memon has been given permission to go abroad for one time on the order of court.

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