Kabul brokers peace talks between Pakistan Taliban, Islamabad

The Afghan Taliban said on Wednesday that it was hosting peace talks between Pakistan officials and a Taliban-inspired militant group that has battled Islamabad for over a decade.

Since the Afghan Taliban returned to power last year, Islamabad has increasingly complained of attacks by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, especially along the mountainous border with Afghanistan.

The TTP is a home-grown movement but shares common roots with the new rulers of Kabul, who Pakistan has claimed permit its fighters to stage assaults from Afghan soil.

‘Talks were held in Kabul between the government of Pakistan and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan in the mediation of the Islamic Emirate,’ government spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said, using the self-styled name of Taliban-ruled Afghanistan.

‘The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, in good faith, strives for a successful negotiation process and expects both sides to be tolerant and flexible,’ he said on Twitter.

In a statement, the group also confirmed that ‘negotiations are underway’ under the guidance of the Afghan Taliban.

A truce previously agreed for the Islamic festival of Eid will also be extended until May 30, the statement said.

A militant source said that ‘negotiations are held in Kabul in a positive atmosphere’ but that it would be ‘premature to draw any conclusion’.

Pakistan government officials have not yet commented on the talks.

The official discussions may be an indication the Taliban are trying to smooth over rocky relations with neighbouring Pakistan.

The mountainous region between Afghanistan and Pakistan has long been a hive of militant activity, with the border becoming a source of friction since the Taliban reclaimed power in August.

Islamabad has made repeated claims its forces have been targeted by fighters across the international boundary.

Last month, Afghan officials said a Pakistani airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed 47 people.

Pakistan did not comment on the strike but urged Kabul to secure its border to prevent militant operations.

The Afghan Taliban called the assault a ‘cruelty’ that ‘is paving the way for enmity between Afghanistan and Pakistan’.

Last year Pakistan conducted peace negotiations with the TTP during a month-long ceasefire, but that truce eventually collapsed.

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