Pakistani authorities, Taliban delegation discuss ‘mutual concerns’ in Islamabad

A senior Taliban aide met with Pakistani authorities, including the caretaker foreign minister, in Islamabad on Wednesday to discuss tensions over cross-border terrorism.

Shirin Akhund, the Taliban governor for Kandahar and the deputy head of Taliban intelligence, is the first senior Taliban figure to visit Islamabad in recent months. Mullah Shirin led the Afghan delegation at the Pakistan-Afghanistan Joint Coordination Committee (JCC), with Special Envoy on Afghanistan Ambassador Asif Durrani heading the Pakistani delegation.

Pakistani media, citing official sources, reported that the talks, which lasted over three hours, covered a range of issues including the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), border security, and the deportation of undocumented Afghans.

Separately, Mullah Shirin met with Pakistan’s Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani. Official statements from both Pakistan and the Taliban avoided explicit mention of sensitive issues, seemingly to prevent escalating tensions.

However, Jilani did address “issues of mutual concerns,” focusing on “peace and security” and people-to-people contacts, according to a Foreign Office statement. Jilani also reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitment to continued engagement and strong ties with Afghanistan.

The Taliban leader, in turn, acknowledged Pakistan’s long-standing support for Afghan refugees and agreed to maintain high-level engagement to strengthen bilateral relations.

The Taliban delegation also attended the 6th session of the Pakistan-Afghanistan JCC, discussing coordination mechanisms to facilitate cross-border movement and promote contacts between people.

A Taliban spokesperson’s statement indicated that the JCC meeting, held alternately in Kabul and Islamabad, would address potential conflicts along the Durand Line and the establishment of facilities for people on both sides.

Tensions have escalated between the neighboring countries due to Kabul’s alleged inability to control the TTP and its affiliates, which have been targeting Pakistani security forces.

Pakistan has consistently called for action against terrorist havens, while the Taliban government insists Afghan soil is not being used against Pakistan.

Before the delegation’s visit, the acting Taliban defense minister blamed “foreign powers” for terrorism in Afghanistan, claiming Tajik and Pakistani nationals were involved in attacks.