Afghanistan's Taliban group says it is hosting peace negotiations between the Pakistani government and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in an attempt to end more than two decades of deadly conflict between the two sides.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid in a tweet on Wednesday said his group in Afghanistan had hosted talks in Kabul between Islamabad and the TTP, saying that Kabul was playing the role of a mediator.
The Afghan Taliban “in good faith, strives for a successful negotiation process and expects both sides to be tolerant and flexible,” he noted.
The TTP, for its part, also confirmed that “negotiations are underway” brokered by the Afghan Taliban, adding that a ceasefire previously agreed for the Islamic festival of Eid would also be extended until May 30.
“Talks are underway between the committees of the TTP and the government of Pakistan," TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani said.
The Afghan Taliban managed to storm back to power in August 2021 after making sweeping advances across Afghanistan that triggered the messy withdrawal of US-led foreign forces as well as the rapid collapse of the country's security forces.
The group announced the formation of a caretaker government in September, but their efforts to stabilize the situation have so far been undermined by international sanctions, as banks are running out of cash and civil servants are going unpaid.
The outlawed Pakistan-based TTP, separate from the Afghan Taliban, is an umbrella organization of al-Qaeda-linked militant groups. Although it is a home-grown movement, it shares common roots with the new rulers of Kabul.
The TTP has waged a war against Islamabad for more than two decades in an attempt to overthrow the government and govern the South Asian nation of 220 million by enforcing their brand of harsh law.
In a persisting war with the TTP, Pakistan has lost tens of thousands of its citizens and security personnel since late 2001, when Islamabad joined the US-led so-called war on terror.
Since the Afghan Taliban came to power last year, Islamabad has increasingly complained of attacks by the TTP, particularly along the mountainous border with Afghanistan. The Pakistani government claims that the TTP allows its militants to stage assaults from Afghan soil.
Last month, officials of the Afghan Taliban said that a Pakistani airstrike in eastern Afghanistan claimed the lives of at least 47 people, describing the assault as a “cruelty” that “is paving the way for enmity between Afghanistan and Pakistan.”
Islamabad, which held a month-long truce with the TTP in 2021, did not comment on the strike but urged Kabul to secure its border to prevent militant operations.
Brokering peace talks between Pakistan and the TTP by the Afghan Taliban might be an indication that the new rulers of Afghanistan are trying to smooth over rocky relations with Islamabad.