Pakistan, Afghanistan agree to jointly address terror threats

Islamabad, Kabul also discuss security, counter-terrorism and regional security issues

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Afghanistans Deputy Prime Minister for Economic AffairsMullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund meets Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and his delegation in Kabul on February 22, 2023.— Twitter/@FDPM_AFG
Afghanistan's Deputy Prime Minister for Economic AffairsMullah Abdul Ghani Baradar Akhund meets Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and his delegation in Kabul on February 22, 2023.— Twitter/@FDPM_AFG

  • FO says delegation discussed growing threats of terrorism.
  • Spokesperson refuses to share more details of discussions.
  • Deems it "sensitive matter relating to security, counter-terrorism".

Pakistan and Afghanistan have agreed to collaborate towards addressing the threat of terrorism and strengthen multifaceted bilateral cooperation.

The Foreign Office, in its weekly briefing on Thursday, spoke about Defence Minister Khawaja Asif leading a high-level delegation to Kabul.

During their engagement, the delegation held meetings with the Afghan interim government's senior leadership including Deputy Prime Minister Mullah Abdul Ghani Beradar Akhund, Defence Minister Mawlavi Mohammad Yaqoob Mujahid, Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani and Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi.

The FO said discussions around the growing threat of terrorism in the region, particularly by the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State – Khorasan Province.

Responding to a question regarding the focus of the defence minister's visit to Afghanistan's capital city, FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said the talks revolved around security and counter-terrorism matters and all aspects of the issue were discussed between the two sides.

Deeming it a "sensitive matter relating to security and counter-terrorism", the spokesperson refused to share additional details with the media on what was agreed upon and progress on the discussions.

Addressing another question on whether the Afghan government will address Pakistan's concerns, she said: "It is speculative in nature because it is a bit early to cast judgement on a visit that just happened yesterday [Wednesday]."

She was also asked about the possibility of Pakistan's Head of Mission in Afghanistan Ubaid Ur Rehman Nizamani's — who was also part of the delegation and survived an assassination attack on December 2 — returning to Kabul and assuming back his charge in the Islamic Emirate. "The head of mission was part of the delegation that visited Kabul yesterday and all members of the delegation have returned to Pakistan." 

Trouble at Torkham border

The FO spokesperson also clarified the situation unfolding at the Torkham border, which has remained closed for the last few days.

While the border was already closed by Afghanistan for unknown reasons, the Afghan border security forces — on February 21 — also opened fire and injured a Pakistani soldier at Ayub checkpoint, located at the hilltop near the border.

Baloch further said that the border was not closed by Pakistan. "We have been in contact with our neighbour Afghanistan and all matters relating to the border including the one on fencing remain under discussion between the two sides, including at local levels," she added.

Commenting on the statement given by State Minister Poverty Alleviation and Social Safety Pakistan Faisal Kareem Kundi regarding Islamabad's Afghan policy, the spokesperson said she won't comment on "statements by political leaders".

Pak-US dialogue

The spokesperson, while responding to a question on the potential Pakistan-United States dialogue to discuss combating terrorism in March which Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari spoke about during his visit to the US as well as if the TTP would be discussed in it, said that she is not in a position to share details about the meeting at this stage.

She added that Islamabad and Washington have held a wide-ranging dialogue on various aspects of bilateral relations including trade, energy and security issues and counter-terrorism.

"Pakistan regularly holds dialogue on counter-terrorism with different countries as part of our over-arching discussions on peace and security matters. We will share information about this meeting at the right time," she also said.