Taliban counselor in Pakistan reiterates leader’s directive against TTP activities

The Taliban counselor in Peshawar, Mohibullah Shakir, has reiterated the directive of the Taliban leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, denouncing the activities of the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) as warfare, not “jihad.”

While the Taliban leadership has not yet officially acknowledged the issuance of a Fatwa (a religious decree) against the TTP, Islamabad has persistently accused the Taliban of maintaining close ties with the TTP and permitting groups that target Pakistani territory.

In a conversation with the Khyber TV channel in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Shakir asserted that not only Hibatullah but also the Defense Minister, Mullah Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, had made similar declarations.

“This is a Fatwa issued by [Hibatullah Akhundzada], who leads the Islamic Emirate [Taliban]. Additionally, Defense Minister Mujahid has also stated that [TTP’s activities] are not Jihad but warfare,” he remarked.

Akhtar Mohammad Rasikh, an international relations analyst, criticized the perceived dual standards concerning the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan and the ongoing turmoil in Pakistan.

“How can it be that the Fatwas issued by Pakistani madrasas and clerics had far-reaching consequences, causing nearly half a century of turmoil, but today, Jihad is prohibited in Pakistan?” he questioned.

The Taliban and TTP share many similarities in their strict religious ideologies, posing a significant challenge to relations between Islamabad and Kabul.

The Taliban’s representative faced pointed questions from the host, who inquired whether Hibatullah’s Fatwa was adequate to deter the TTP from pursuing the same objective that the Afghan Taliban once sought in Afghanistan — the overthrow of the republican government and elections.

In response, Shakir stated, “I have not witnessed any foreign interference here to appoint anyone. People are organizing their elections and casting their votes. Both the central and federal governments are Muslim. This situation differs from that. Our initial goal was the foreign forces and subsequently their proxies.”

Regarding Pakistan’s decision to expel unregistered Afghan refugees by November 1 this year, Shakir expressed his lack of objection and gratitude toward Pakistan for hosting Afghan nationals.

He remarked, “I feel sorrow for the displaced Afghans, but I do not object to the decision of the Pakistani government. I am not saddened.”

While the Taliban consulate refrained from denying the presence of TTP fighters in Afghanistan, it emphasized that they would not be permitted to act against Pakistan.

Relations between the Taliban and Pakistan, once marked by a longstanding friendship, have recently become strained following a series of attacks in Pakistan. Islamabad has accused the Afghan regime of supporting the TTP, allegations that the Taliban vehemently deny.