Pakistan sees Afghan Taliban as “strategic asset”: top US intelligence official

Pakistan sees Afghan Taliban as 'strategic asset': top US intelligence official

Pakistan has not officially recognized the Taliban. (File photo)

Washington:

Pakistan wants to maintain a positive relationship with the Taliban because it views the radical Islamist terrorist group as a “strategic asset” to protect its interests in Afghanistan, a top Pentagon intelligence official has told U.S. lawmakers.

Lieutenant General Scott Barrier, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee during a recent congressional hearing that Pakistan now sees instability in Afghanistan as its most important concern and will probably prioritize preventing it from spreading to Pakistan next year and beyond. .

“Although Pakistan has not formally recognized the Taliban, Islamabad wants to maintain a positive relationship with them and to achieve this it is providing humanitarian assistance, international publicity and technical assistance,” Barrier said.

“Pakistan sees the Taliban as a strategic asset that is needed to protect its interests in Afghanistan. However, Islamabad’s ability to shape the Taliban’s behavior is likely to decline as the group no longer relies on their safe haven in Pakistan, “he said.

He said Pakistan was still vulnerable to attacks by various anti-Pakistan terrorist groups, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), ISIS and the Baloch separatists.

Pakistan’s military is conducting operations against these terrorist groups and is concerned about its ability to conduct small-scale attacks and occasional high-profile attacks inside the country, he said.

‚ÄúSince 2020, the TTP has mobilized teams and stepped up attacks. In November 2021, the TTP agreed to a one-month ceasefire with Pakistan but announced that it would not be extended due to Pakistan’s violation of the terms of the agreement. Fighting resumed in early December 2021 with dozens of deadly attacks and will probably continue, “he added.

A Pakistani delegation led by former ISI chief Fayez Hamid has held talks with representatives of the banned terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in connection with a series of deadly attacks on Pakistani security forces in Afghanistan, a media report said. Islamabad on Tuesday.

However, no official confirmation was received from either side about the development, but the report suggested that it was part of renewed pressure from the Afghan Taliban for any agreement between Pakistan and the TTP, the Express Tribune quoted Afghan journalists and sources as saying. .

As head of the ISI, General Fayez was instrumental in mediating an agreement between the United States and the Afghan Taliban. His alleged presence in Kabul appears to have stemmed from his close ties to the Afghan Taliban, as well as his experience managing them, the report said.

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