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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Iran-Pakistan Talks on Afghanistan Security: Assessing Terrorist Threats

Iran and Pakistan engage in high-level talks to address security concerns emanating from Afghanistan, focusing on the Taliban's failure to dismantle terrorist sanctuaries and the surge in cross-border attacks.

 

Iran and Pakistan are set to engage in discussions today, focusing on the security situation in Afghanistan and the challenge posed by terrorist groups operating from Afghan soil. Iran’s Special Envoy for Afghanistan, Hassan Kazemi Ghomi, leads a high-level delegation for talks with Pakistan’s Special Representative on Afghanistan, Asif Durrani. The meeting gains significance amid concerns over the Taliban’s inability to dismantle terrorist sanctuaries.

Historically backing opposing sides in the Afghan conflict, Iran and Pakistan have found common ground in recent years, particularly concerning Afghan refugees. Both nations share the burden of hosting millions of Afghan refugees but advocate for their early repatriation. Notably, Pakistan’s crackdown on undocumented Afghans, initiated in November last year, sparked tension with Kabul, while Iran’s similar actions received less attention.

Tensions and Terrorism: Root Causes of Strain

The underlying tension between Pakistan and Afghanistan arises from a surge in terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Islamabad attributes these attacks to terrorist hideouts across the border, accusing the Taliban government of harboring the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The Taliban, in turn, dismisses these concerns, labeling the TTP as Pakistan’s internal problem. However, recent revelations of meetings between JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman and TTP leaders on Afghan soil challenge Kabul’s claims.

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In an attempt to address the deadlock, Maulana Fazl held a rare meeting with Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada in Kandahar. Despite Pakistan clarifying that Fazl attended in a private capacity, the government was briefed before his departure, signaling official awareness. The outcome remains uncertain as the Taliban insists on engaging with the TTP, a dialogue Pakistan vehemently opposes.

Iran-Pakistan Collaboration: Countering Cross-Border Terrorism

The urgency of the Iran-Pakistan talks stems from recent terrorist attacks in Iran, allegedly conducted by militants from Afghanistan’s Nimroz province. The Iranian delegation, including Ambassador Reza Ameri, plays a crucial role in diplomatic efforts to stabilize Afghanistan. Both nations, while maintaining positive relations with Afghanistan, express reservations about Afghan territory being used for terrorism against them. The discussions aim to address shared security concerns and explore collaborative measures to counter cross-border terrorism, affecting both Pakistan and Iran.