Pakistan’s intelligence chief visits Afghanistan’s capital – A Pakistani delegation led by the head of the country’s premier spy agency – Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) – Lt. Gen. Faiz Hameed left for Kabul on Saturday to discuss a slew of issues with the Taliban leadership, according to local media and intelligence officials.
The delegation, according to local broadcaster Geo News, will meet senior Taliban leaders to discuss the latest developments in Afghanistan and future relations between the two countries.
The visit coincided with the Taliban’s efforts to put a governance structure in place in Kabul, following the pullout of the US and NATO forces after two decades, leaving a power vacuum in the war-raked country.
A senior intelligence official, who wished not to be named as he was not allowed to speak to media confirmed the visit, saying: “The delegation will raise several long pending issues, mainly the border management and the TTP (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) bases in Afghanistan.”
Inter-Services Public Relations, Pakistan Army’s media wing, did not respond to Anadolu Agency’s request for confirmation of the visit.
Islamabad, which has long been demanding action against militants reportedly based inside Afghanistan and frequently attacks Pakistani security forces, hopes for an end to such attacks, following the Taliban’s takeover.
However, a Pakistan army soldier was killed in a “cross-border” attack in northwestern Bajuar district earlier this week, according to Pakistan’s military.
Pakistan has long been accusing a “nexus” of Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies of patronizing the groups involved in cross-border attacks on its security forces.
The former Afghan government had denied the charges and itself accused Islamabad of patronizing the Taliban.
The TTP, the mother group of several militant outfits in Pakistan, was pushed to Afghanistan following a large-scale military onslaught in North Waziristan in 2014.
Although Islamabad contends it has no favorites in Afghanistan, its influence over the Taliban is viewed as crucial.
It was Pakistan that had arranged rare direct talks between Washington and the Taliban in December 2018, which led to the Doha peace deal in February 2020, and subsequently the withdrawal of foreign troops from the Afghan soil.
Islamabad had also facilitated the landmark first round of direct talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban in Pakistan in July 2015.
The process, however, broke down after the news of long-time Taliban leader Mullah Omar’s death surfaced, triggering a bitter internal power struggle.
Former US President Donald Trump in August 2019 stepped up efforts to resume the long-stalled process, seeking Pakistan’s help to end Washington’s longest war in recent history.