Pakistan’s spy chief is expected to visit Afghanistan later this week for talks with counterparts in Kabul on bilateral anti-terrorism and security cooperation, officials said Monday.
The director general of the Inter-Services intelligence, Lt. General Naveed Mukhtar, is likely to discuss the fate of the lists of militants wanted on both sides and to address mutual concerns, explained Ayaz Sadiq, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, or National Assembly.
Sadiq spoke in Islamabad shortly after his 15-member parliamentary delegation returned from a two-day official visit to Kabul.
“Only concerned [Pakistani security] departments are authorized to discuss matters related to the lists [with Afghan officials]. And, God willing, they will go and do so. I think tomorrow or the day after our D.G. ISI is traveling there [to Kabul] and the discussions [with regard to the lists] will take place at his level,” Sadiq said.
He was responding to a question about whether his delegation discussed the list of fugitive militants Pakistan recently shared with Afghanistan.
Islamabad provided the list to Kabul in February after a string of terrorist attacks killed scores of people in Pakistan and authorities blamed anti-state militants sheltering in Afghan border areas plotted the violence. The Afghan government accepted the list, but gave Pakistan a list of militants it said were orchestrating attacks in Afghanistan.
|President Ashraf Ghani & Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah|
In addition to meeting Afghan counterparts and prominent tribal elders, Sadiq said the Pakistani parliamentary delegation of representatives from all national political parties also met with President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah.
He said that the Afghan Chief Executive has assured his delegation he will soon visit Pakistan.
“The Afghan leadership, the people of Afghanistan and Afghan lawmakers not only warmly welcomed our delegation but our discussions with them took place in an extremely cordial atmosphere,” said the Pakistani house speaker.
All of them desired friendship and an improved situation between Pakistan and Afghanistan and both sides agreed to resume contacts from where they were broken off, Sadiq noted.
President Ghani reached out to Pakistan after assuming office in 2014 to encourage the neighboring country to stop Taliban insurgents from using Pakistani soil for insurgent activities in Afghanistan and to persuade the rebels to engage in peace talks with his government.
The Ghani initiative also led to an initial cooperation agreement between ISI and its Afghan counterpart, the National Directorate of Security to fight anti-state militants taking advantage of a 2,600-kilometer largely porous border between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
But increased insurgent attacks and the Taliban’s refusal to hold peace talks with Kabul have deteriorated bilateral relations during the past two years.
President Ghani has repeatedly blamed Pakistan for the continuing deadly violence in his country, charges Islamabad denies.
The Afghan government says sanctuaries on Pakistani soil are helping the Taliban prolong its insurgent activities in their country.
Speaking to Cabinet ministers on Monday, Abdullah, without naming Pakistan, asserted the Taliban planned and announced its so-called "spring offensive "from a neighboring country."
He said that in his talks with Pakistani parliamentarians he stressed that Afghanistan has certain expectations when "the announcement of the launch of an [insurgent] operation is made from inside a neighboring country against its neighbor."
This story first appeared on Voice of America & is reposted here with permission.