The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehrik-i Taliban Pakistan or TTP have demanded that the government of Pakistan release a number of prisoners as a condition for talks aimed at laying the ground for full ceasefire negotiations, multiple sources in the group said, Reuters reported.
The TTP and separate from the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) , have had two rounds of preliminary talks, facilitated by the IEA, a commander based in the Afghan province of Kunar said.
Reuters citing sources close to the matter said Sirajuddin Haqqani, the head of the Haqqani Network and the current Afghan IEA acting interior minister, was helping the talks.
The TTP, which combines a number of jihadi and militant groups that have been fighting the government of Pakistan since 2007, is included on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organisations.
Last month Prime Minister Imran Khan told Turkey’s TRT television that his government was in talks with parts of the TTP as part of a “reconciliation process”.
The release of the prisoners is meant to be a confidence-building measure, three TTP commanders said, adding that the outcome of the talks was still uncertain.
“We aren’t too hopeful of the immediate results of the talks but our leaders had demanded the release of prisoners if they are sincere in meaningful negotiations,” a TTP commander told Reuters from Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
No comment was available from the Pakistani government, Reuters reported.
According to negotiators, the two sides agreed not to issue statements either supporting or opposing the peace process or against each other till the accord is signed and made public.
TTP spokesman Muhammad Khurasani said in a text message the group had “never refused meaningful talks” but that there were no developments on the ground yet.
According to Reuters, the TTP attacks have killed and wounded thousands of civilians and Pakistani service personnel over the years but the group was badly weakened by the Pakistan military’s Zarb-e-Azb operation in 2014 which drove it from its stronghold in North Waziristan.
However it has a force estimated at around 4,000-5,000 fighters, many based across the border in Afghanistan, and there has been a spate of incidents along the border since the IEA seized Kabul in August.
Under the previous Western-backed government in Kabul, both Afghanistan and Pakistan accused each other of harbouring militant groups that mounted cross-border attacks.
Another TTP commander said the leadership had consulted all factions in the movement, some of which had serious reservations about talking to the Pakistani government, but he said many ordinary fighters wanted to go home.
Almost 700 people including ex-govt officials return home: commission
The Commission for Contact with Afghan Personalities says nearly 700 officials of the previous government, politicians, members of the National Council and some experts have returned to Afghanistan since the establishment of the commission early last year.
“Six hundred and eighty people from different countries have returned to the country,” said the commission’s spokesman, Ahmadullah Wasiq.
He stated that among these people are former officials of the old government who worked in various ministries and departments.
He added that currently, a large number of personalities, including politicians and high-ranking officials of the former government, have received application forms to return to the country through this commission, and will come home soon.
“We have distributed hundreds of forms [to them] and our wish is that in the near future many of the people will return to the country, so for now this process is going very well,” Wasiq added.
A number of those who have returned to the country, however, are demanding some changes to the commission, adding that the caretaker government should make effective use of the cadres and experts who return and provide them with work opportunities.
“The method of this process should be changed, such as communicating with experts or elites or politicians. Second, when these people come to Afghanistan, they should be provided with work,” said Amanullah Ghalib, former head of Breshna Sherkat, who also returned to the country recently.
Officials have repeatedly requested Afghans living abroad, including politicians and officials of the previous government, to return to their homeland and continue their normal lives in Afghanistan in accordance with the general amnesty issued by the Islamic Emirate’s supreme leader.
Hanafi says IEA seeking to promote electronic governance
Deputy Prime Minister for Administrative Affairs Abdul Salam Hanafi said on Sunday that the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) is trying to promote electronic governance in its institutions.
Hanafi said this at the signing ceremony of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the simplification of administrative processes between the Department of Administrative Reforms and Civil Services, the Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled, and Da Afghanistan Breshna Sherkat company.
Hanafi added that the Islamic Emirate is committed to e-governance and is seeking to network government institutions so that the work can be done quickly.
“God willing, we are determined to gradually reform all government institutions. We are seeking to end the paperwork in the departments and we are trying to promote electronic governance among the institutions,” he said.
Hanafi also said that the Islamic Emirate is committed to serving the people and to the development of the country. He also said the government will soon start work on the second phase of Qosh Tepa canal as the first phase is almost complete.
“Alhamdulillah, the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is engaged in reconstruction and development works in various fields. The first phase of the Qosh Tepa canal is being completed with our own funds,” he said.
On the other hand, officials in the Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Department said that they are hoping to attract experts and professionals in government offices and want the work to be entrusted to professionals. At the same time, the officials of DABS announced that 118 million afghanis has been collected from strongmen.
“The goal is to prevent corruption. The goal is to show compassion to the oppressed and suffering people. The goal is to avoid spending,” Abdulhanan Arifullah, the general director of the Administrative Reforms and Civil Services Department, said.
Deputy PM Hanafi said that compared to any other institution, the processes in the Ministry of Martyrs and the Disabled need to be simplified because vulnerable people reach out to this institution.
According to him, in the current year, 13.5 billion afghanis have been budgeted for the martyrs, disabled and orphans.
Afghan embassy in India announces it will cease operations from Oct. 1
The embassy of Afghanistan in India’s capital New Delhi will cease operations from Oct. 1, due to a lack of support from India and a reduction in personnel and resources, the embassy said in a statement on social media platform X.
The embassy also said a failure to meet expectations in serving Afghanistan’s interests is another key factor in shutting of the embassy.
“Given these circumstances, it is with deep regret that we have taken the difficult decision to close all operations of the mission with the exception of emergency consular services to Afghan citizens till the transfer of the custodial authority of the mission to the host country,” the embassy said in the statement dated Sept. 30.
In its announcement, the Afghan Embassy also cited challenges like shortage of both personnel and resources available. “The lack of timely and sufficient support from visa renewal for diplomats to other critical areas of cooperation led to an understandable frustration among our team and impeded our ability to carry out routine duties effectively,” the statement read.
The embassy also refuted any “baseless claims” regarding internal strife or discord among its diplomatic staff or any diplomats using the crisis to seek asylum in a third country.
India does not recognise the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) as government, and closed its own embassy in Kabul after the IEA took control in 2021, but New Delhi had allowed the ambassador and mission staff appointed by the Western-backed government of ousted Afghan President Ashraf Ghani to issue visas and handle trade matters.
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