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Taliban not operating from Pakistan, says FO REPORT in Dawn, December 23rd, 2016

27 December 2016 No Comment

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office dismissed on Thursday Pentagon’s latest assessment that the Taliban and Haqqani network were freely operating from Pakistan and instead accused Afghanistan of being an epicentre of terrorism in the region.

“This is more of a rhetoric than anything else. Afghanistan is infested with most terrorist organisations due to the instability there, which has created space for these terrorist elements,” Foreign Office Spokesman Nafees Zakaria said.

He was reacting to the recent biannual report of the US Department of Defence on security and stability situation in Afghanistan, which had said: “Afghan-oriented militant groups, including Taliban and Haqqani network’s senior leadership, retain freedom of action from safe havens inside Pakistani territory. The United States continues to be clear with Pakistan about steps it should take to improve the security environment and deny safe havens to terrorist and extremist groups.”

Mr Zakaria recalled the counterterrorism operations undertaken by Pakistani security forces in the tribal areas, which had restored peace there. But he also acknowledged that a large number of terrorists had moved to Afghanistan after the start of the operations.

The number of “senior commanders of Haqqani network, Taliban, Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups killed in Afghanistan this year,” he stressed, by itself told where the leadership of these organisations was currently based.

A senior FO official, in a testimony at the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee earlier in the week, had said that the Haqqani network and Taliban had been told to end violence in Afghanistan.

The spokesman in his briefing avoided commenting on the reported statement and said “we remain committed and extend all cooperation to the efforts towards bringing peace and stability in Afghanistan”.

It should be further recalled that Foreign Secretary Aizaz Chaudhry had in a rare admission told a TV interviewer that some of Haqqani network/Taliban militants were in Pakistan, but had been instructed not to indulge in any terrorist activity or violence in Afghanistan.

Mr Zakaria renewed Pakistan’s offer to facilitate the Afghan peace process.

Senior officials from Pakistan, Russia and China would meet in Russia on Dec 27 to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, besides the overall regional security situation.

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