‘In constant touch with Taliban’: Pakistan military official ahead of Imran’s UNGA address

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Pakistan is in “constant touch” with the Afghan Taliban for safeguarding the country’s security interests, a top military official has said.

Military spokesman Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar said the Taliban have reiterated on several occasions that no group or terrorist organisation will be allowed to use Afghan territory for any terrorist activity against any country, including Pakistan.

“Taliban have reiterated on several occasions that no group or terrorist organisation will be allowed to use Afghan territory for any terrorist activity against any country, including Pakistan. We have no reason to doubt their intentions, and that is why we are in constant touch with them to protect our national interest,” he told Urdu News.

The Dawn newspaper reported that one of the country’s major concerns has been the presence of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorist group in Afghanistan.

There have also been discussions between the Pakistani authorities and the Afghan Taliban about new border control measures to prevent undesired elements from crossing the border into Pakistan, the report said.

There has been a significant uptick in TTP attacks since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

However, Pakistani authorities are not ready to blame the Afghan Taliban for that and often say it is too early to expect them to establish their writ in the bordering areas and be in full control of the situation, it said.

Gen Iftikhar underscored the progress being made in fencing the 2,600-km-long border with Afghanistan.

“Our goal has always been better management on this side of the border. Fencing the Pakistan-Afghan border was a major responsibility due to the region’s terrain and other difficulties. Despite all the difficulties, Pakistan has completed the fencing work on 90 per cent of the border. Border management is constantly improving and we are hopeful that it will be fully secured in the near future,” he said.

The Taliban swept across the country last month, seizing control of almost all key towns and cities in the backdrop of withdrawal of the US forces that began on May 1.

On August 15, the capital city of Kabul fell to the insurgents.

The Taliban claimed victory over opposition forces in the last holdout province of Panjshir on September 6, completing their takeover of Afghanistan three weeks after capturing Kabul.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan will outline Pakistan’s perspective on key regional and global issues, especially on Kashmir and the situation in Afghanistan, in his policy address to the UN General Assembly later this week, according to official sources.

The 76th annual session of the UN General Assembly is set to start in New York from Tuesday and Khan will address the world body through video link, the Foreign Office said here on Monday.

Pakistan’s Permanent Representative at the UN Munir Akram said that his country’s priorities at the UNGA include highlighting concerns about Kashmir and a strategy for Afghanistan on how to ensure stability, peace, reconciliation and revival of the economy.

“We want the world to realise the threat to peace and security arising from this situation,” said Akram.

Sources in the Foreign Office said that Prime Minister Khan would talk about alleged human rights violations in Kashmir which Pakistan claims to have been documented in a recent dossier which it said has been shared with the UN.

India has repeatedly told Pakistan that Jammu and Kashmir “was, is and shall forever” remain an integral part of the country.

It also advised Pakistan to accept the reality and stop all anti-India propaganda.

Khan would also talk about the global threat of climate change and transfer of corruption money from the poor countries to rich nations.

Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi is travelling to New York to participate in various high-level meetings and side-events.

He will hold bilateral meetings with his counterparts and the UN leadership, Foreign Office Spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad said.

The spokesperson said the Prime Minister’s policy address and the Foreign Minister’s visit to New York will serve to enhance Pakistan’s diplomatic outreach and engagement with its international partners and key institutions.

He said Pakistan has always played an active and constructive role in the United Nations framework and supported the Organization in effective discharge of its mandates for addressing various regional and global issues as well as contemporary challenges.

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