South Asia

Pakistan to ask Taliban leader to rein in militants

Islamabad will ask the Taliban’s supreme leader Hibatullah Akundzada to rein in militants in Pakistan after a suicide bombing at a Peshawar mosque killed over 100 people last week.

Special assistant to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Faisal Karim Kundi, said delegations would be sent to Tehran and Kabul to “ask them to ensure that their soil is not used by terrorists against Pakistan”.

A senior Pakistani police official in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where Monday’s blast took place told AFP the Kabul delegation would hold “talks with the top brass”.

“When we say top brass, it means… Afghan Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada,” he said on condition of anonymity.

On Wednesday however, the Taliban’s foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi told Pakistan to “not pass the blame to others”.

“They should see the problems in their own house,” he said. “Afghanistan should not be blamed.”

Pakistan has blamed an affiliate of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group for the deadly explosion last week.

Since the Taliban seized Kabul in August 2021, relations with Pakistan have soured, in part over the resurgence of the TTP. According to Pakistan’s Institute for Peace Studies, in the first year of Taliban rule, Pakistan witnessed a 50 percent increase in militant attacks, concentrated in the border regions with Afghanistan and Iran.

Meanwhile, in May last year, a UN Security Council report stated the TTP has “arguably benefitted the most of all the foreign extremist groups in Afghanistan from the Taliban takeover”.

Peace talks brokered last year by the Taliban, meanwhile collapsed in late November and the TTP called off a shaky ceasefire.