Pakistan, Afghan Taliban meet in Doha to iron out differences
Relations between the two have been particularly tense due to cross-border attacks attributed to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP),

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The Pakistani delegation and Afghan Taliban team, including spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid, meet in Doha

Doha/Islamabad, July 2: Amid the simmering tension, Pakistan and the Taliban in Afghanistan held crucial talks, the first in several months, in the Qatari capital as part of the latest push to iron out differences regarding the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) outfit, which is behind many terror attacks in Pakistan.

Relations between the two have been particularly tense due to cross-border attacks attributed to the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which Pakistani security officials allege operates from Afghan territory. The TTP is banned in Pakistan.

The talks were held at the residence of Pakistan’s Ambassador to Qatar, between Pakistan’s special envoy on Afghanistan, Ambassador Asif Durrani, and Chief Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid on Monday.

Durrani and Mujahid were leading their countries’ respective delegations at the third meeting of the Doha process on Afghanistan.

On the sidelines, Pakistan’s Ambassador to Qatar invited Zabiullah Mujahid over a dinner where they held formal talks with Ambassador Asif Durrani.

Mujahid termed his interaction with Pakistan as “good” and expressed the hope that relations between the two neighbours would improve.

Durrani, meanwhile, said he discussed the Doha meeting and regional issues with the Taliban delegation.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of rising antagonism between Pakistan and the Afghan Taliban government. Tensions deepened further after Pakistan indicated it might resort to cross border strikes to target the terrorist hideouts of TTP.

Sources said the meeting was part of renewed efforts by Pakistan to convince the Afghan Taliban to get rid of the TTP and its affiliates.

The latest push came after Pakistan decided to use all possible diplomatic options to resolve the issue of TTP.

Sources told The Express Tribune on Tuesday that the Taliban side was conveyed that there was no issue between the two neighbours except the TTP. Durrani told the Taliban spokesperson that if Kabul took care of the issue, the relationship between the two countries would see a positive turn.

During the closed door session of the Doha meeting, Durrani brought up the issue of sanctuaries and urged the Afghan Taliban to tackle them.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to Qatar, Muhammad Aejaz in a post on X echoed a sentiment of camaraderie, stating, “Both remain neighbors and brothers and have a lot in common, including a strong desire for regional peace and security.”

The high-level diplomatic interaction comes as Pakistan launches Operation ‘Azm-e-Istehkam’, a renewed national counter-terrorism initiative aimed at eradicating terrorism. Federal Minister for Defence Khawaja Asif recently criticized the Afghan government for its lack of action against militants near the border and hinted at potential cross-border strikes under the new operation. However, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif clarified that the operation would not involve large-scale military actions or population displacement.

Previously, Pakistan conducted intelligence-based operations in Afghanistan against terrorists from the Hafiz Gul Bahadur Group, responsible for multiple attacks in Pakistan. The Afghan interim government responded strongly to these “air strikes,” asserting its stance against any compromise of security using Afghan territory