Pakistan ‘not completely optimistic’ of Taliban govt in Kabul: NSA

Islamabad, Jan 27 (PTI) Pakistan’s frustration with the Afghan Taliban became evident on Thursday when its top security official said that Islamabad was “not completely optimistic” of the Taliban government in Kabul as organised terrorist networks are still operating in the war-torn nation and the Afghan soil is still being used against his country.

Briefing the National Assembly Standing Committee for Foreign Affairs, National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf spoke about the threat posed to Pakistan by the presence of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Afghanistan.

“Organised terrorist networks are still operating in Afghanistan and the Afghan soil is still being used against Pakistan, he said.

He said Pakistan was “not completely optimistic” of the Taliban government in Afghanistan and a complete solution to all problems should not be expected with the Taliban coming into power.

His remarks came in the wake of spike in terrorist attacks in Pakistan since August after the Taliban came to power, belying Islamabad’s expectations that they would take harsh measures against their former comrades-in-arms and expel them.

But the Taliban instead of taking any action against the TTP, persuaded Pakistan to enter into talks with them, which Islamabad did with the vain hope that the Afghan Taliban would use their influence to tame the TTP.

The TTP announced a month-long ceasefire on November 9 and presented tough conditions, including implementation of their brand of Shariah and release of all detained rebels. The government faced a backlash and refused to accept the demands and the TTP refused to extend the ceasefire once it ended.

Yusuf said that the TTP had unilaterally terminated the ceasefire agreement and warned that whoever imposes war on the country will be dealt with strongly.

The TTP, known as the Pakistan Taliban, was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007. Its main aim is to impose its strict brand of Islam across Pakistan.

The group, which is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on the Army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.

Talking about the recently announced first-ever National Security Policy, Yusuf said that the government was ready to present it before the Joint Parliamentary National Security Committee.

He said it took more than seven years to formulate the policy and assured the lawmakers that it would be activated only after Parliament approved it.

He said that the economic sovereignty, security of the people, debt relief and the Kashmir issue were important components of the security policy.

“Had a very productive discussion on NSP and Afghanistan. I am grateful for the appreciation we received for our work from members of the Committee,” he tweeted after his meeting with the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs.