China is trying to broker a ‘workable solution’ between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban to address the issue of banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), reported The Express Tribune.
According to official sources familiar with the plan revealed that Foreign Ministers of China and the interim Afghan government were in Islamabad recently for a trilateral meeting to discuss the current situation in Afghanistan.
Among the issues on the agenda included the terrorist sanctuaries in Afghanistan. While Pakistan is concerned over the presence of TTP and its affiliates, China wants the Afghan Taliban to neutralise the threat posed by East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), reported The Express Tribune.
Moreover, China has a vested economic interest in the region. China’s trade with Afghanistan has been growing fast and it may become the second-largest trading nation with Afghanistan in 2023 after Pakistan, a situation that bodes well for the continuation of the CPEC part of the Belt & Road Initiative into Afghanistan, as per Silk Road Briefing (SRB).
Sources said in order to break the stalemate, China was pursuing both sides to agree on a “workable solution.”
The Afghan Taliban earlier proposed the relocation of TTP fighters from Pakistani bordering areas but asked Pakistan to bear the cost. It is believed that a similar plan was offered to China by the Afghan Taliban to address the issue of ETIM.
Sources said China was keen that both sides do not lose sight of the bigger picture while addressing the issue of TTP. Essentially, sources said, China doesn’t want the TTP issue to undermine bilateral ties between the two countries, something that would be detrimental to regional connectivity, reported The Express Tribune.
Last week at a press conference Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang hoped “Pakistan and Afghanistan will bear in mind the larger picture and try to work out the issues between them through dialogue and consultation.”
His statement, according to officials, suggests that Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban must not take the issue of TTP to a point of no return.
Meanwhile, the Afghan Taliban government is thought to be working on a plan to address the Chinese concerns as it has relocated ETIM militants believed to be in the hundreds from the border. But the issue of TTP still looms large, reported The Express Tribune.
After the Taliban takeover, there were expectations in Pakistan that the issue of TTP would be dealt with once and for all.
When Pakistan sought action against the TTP, the Afghan Taliban instead came up with a proposal to broker a deal with the militant outfit. Islamabad reluctantly accepted the proposal and initially, talks made progress with TTP announcing a ceasefire in return for Pakistan freeing certain militants.
As part of the confidence-building measure Pakistan allowed hundreds of TTP fighters to resettle in the country. However, the process soon went into trouble as returning fighters started targeting the security forces.
Moreover, the surge in TTP terrorist attacks compelled Pakistan’s civil and military leadership to abandon the peace process. The current civil and military leadership publicly acknowledged that the policy to seek peace with the TTP was wrong. The government decided that it would no longer seek peace talks with the TTP. (ANI)