Pak to step up counter-terror cooperation with China in Afghanistan:Pak envoy

Beijing, Sep 1 (PTI) Pakistan remains cognizant of the threats posed by the various terror groups operating from Afghanistan and it will strengthen intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism cooperation with China post-US withdrawal, the country’s envoy to China has said.

The Taliban seized power in Afghanistan on August 15, two weeks before the US was set to complete its troop withdrawal after a costly two-decade war. This forced Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to flee the country to the UAE.

Pakistan remains “cognizant of the threat posed by terrorist organisations, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Da’esh (ISIS), the East Turkistan Islamic Movement (ETIM) and others operating from Afghanistan,” Pakistan’s Ambassador to China Moin ul Haque told state-run Global Times on Tuesday.

Pakistan will strengthen intelligence sharing, counter-terrorism cooperation with China, he added.

“We continue to work through existing mechanisms to build capacities, share intelligence, and coordinate our efforts. In view of the emerging challenges and threats, the two countries would enhance and strengthen the existing cooperation and coordination, he said.

Since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan last month, China which is closely coordinating with Pakistan on formulating its Afghanistan policy has asked the militant group not to let the war-ravaged country to become a haven for terrorist groups like in its previous tenure two decades ago.

Primarily, China which hosted a Taliban delegation in July and later established first diplomatic contacts with the group after it took control of the country last month, is insisting that the Afghan militant group should not allow Uygur Muslim militant outfit from volatile Xinjiang province to function from Afghanistan.

Xinjiang shares borders with Afghanistan, Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK), besides Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

A recent UN report said hundreds of militants of the ETIM fighting for the independence of Xinjiang converged at Afghanistan’s Badakhshan province which borders China’s volatile Xinjiang province.

The report also said militants of Islamic State (IS), Al-Qaeda and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which has been waging an insurgency against Pakistan especially in its lawless tribal areas. regrouped in the run-up to the Taliban’s offensive culminating in its sudden takeover of power in Kabul following the collapse of the Afghan army.

China on Tuesday asked the Taliban to form an open, inclusive government that follows moderate policies to get international recognition.

“We hope Afghanistan can form an open, inclusive and broadly-based government, uphold moderate and prudent domestic and foreign policies, resolutely combat terrorist forces in all forms, co-exist friendly with all countries, and respond to the shared aspiration of the Afghan people and the international community, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told the media on Tuesday when asked whether China would recognise the Taliban as a legitimate authority in the country.

“There is a need to protect and promote the rights of the people of Afghanistan, particularly women and girls, minorities, and vulnerable groups. Pakistan and China have been calling on the Taliban to respect the rights of all Afghan people. We expect that no country is harmed by terrorist organizations and groups operating in Afghanistan,” Haque said.

When asked about how he sees the importance of India’s engagement with the Taliban, Haque said Pakistan “expect India to play a positive and constructive role” in Afghanistan.

“In the past, India has acted as a spoiler and worked against peace in Afghanistan,” he alleged.

“In fact, any effort of the regional countries should be aimed at stabilising the situation with a view to ease the sufferings of the Afghan people,” he said.