A month-long ceasefire agreed during negotiations requested by both parties, says Afghan Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.
Islamabad, Pakistan – The Taliban is acting as a mediator between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban, known by the acronym TTP, Afghanistan’s acting foreign minister has said.
In an interview with the BBC’s Urdu service on Sunday, Amir Khan Muttaqi said the Afghan Taliban had stepped in at the “request” of both parties.
“No final agreement has been reached; the start has been really good though, and in the first part of [talks] there has been an agreement on a one-month ceasefire, ”Muttaqi said.
“Both sides agree that negotiations will continue.”
Last month, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan revealed that Pakistan had begun talks with the TTP following the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August. Tens of thousands of civilians, security forces and fighters have been killed in the last 14 years by armed insurgency led by TTP.
The Taliban and the TTP are two separate groups with separate leadership structures and goals, although their ideologies are similar, and the TTP has assisted the Taliban in its fight against US-led NATO forces in the past.
TTP was formed in 2007 and is an umbrella organization of armed groups formed across Pakistan’s northwest, which seeks to impose on the country a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
The group has carried out some of the bloodiest attacks on Pakistani soil in the country’s history, including a 2014 attack on a school that killed more than 135 school children.
In 2014, Pakistani security forces launched a comprehensive military operation against TTP, successfully displacing it from its former headquarters in the northern Waziristan district and significantly reducing its operational capabilities. Since then, analysts and security officials say, the group has been based mainly in eastern Afghanistan.
Since the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul in August, attacks on Pakistani security forces and some civilians in the northern and southern Waziristan districts have increased, according to data from the research organization South Asia Terrorism Portal.
Last week, Pakistani Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry confirmed that a month-long ceasefire agreement had been reached between TTP and the Pakistani government, an apparent result of talks held by Afghan Minister Muttaqi on Sunday.
The ceasefire expires on December 9, TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said.
ISIL poses a threat
In his extensive interview with the BBC, Muttaqi acknowledged that the ISIL (ISIS) armed group was a threat, but said his government had taken steps to control the situation.
“When we conquered Kabul, Daesh [a common alternate name for ISIL] began to lift his head in [some] areas, but the Taliban government has taken the best measures to control them. We have now restricted Daesh in most areas, ”he said.
“There are sometimes incidents in some places, such as mosques, that can happen anywhere in the world.”
On Friday, at least three people were killed and 15 wounded when a bomb exploded during noon prayers in the Spin Ghar area of Afghanistan’s eastern Nangarhar province.
On Saturday, an attack on a mainly Shia Muslim neighborhood in the capital Kabul killed at least one person and left four others wounded.
A local ISIL federation, Islamic State in Khorasan province, ISKP (ISIS-K), has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in Afghanistan since August, particularly targeting the Shia Muslim minority.