Pak-US counterterrorism talks kicked off

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and the United States Monday kicked off a two-day counterterrorism dialogue to share experiences and best practices in the domain of countering militancy, as the country is facing a renewed threat of terrorism from militant groups based in Afghanistan, including Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State-Khorasan Province (IS-KP).

In the first round of talks on Monday, Foreign Secretary Dr Asad Majeed Khan led Pakistan’s delegation while the US delegation was headed by Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Christopher Landberg. Syed Haider Shah, additional secretary (UN&ED) and senior officials from the concerned Foreign Office as well as the concerned department.

A high-level US delegation led by Acting Coordinator for Counterterrorism Christopher Landberg arrived in Islamabad on Monday for the counterterrorism dialogue.

“The dialogue is aimed at discussing the common threat of terrorism, cooperation at multilateral fora and countering the financing of terrorism,” said Foreign Office spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch.

Pak-US CTD starts today

She added that the two-day dialogue will provide an opportunity for both sides to exchange views and share their experiences and best practices in the domain of counterterrorism.

The dialogue is taking place at a time when Pakistan is facing a fresh wave of terrorism, particularly from the militant outfits based in Afghanistan including the outlawed TTP and IS-KP.

A high-level delegation led by Defence Minister Khawaja Asif which also included Director General, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lt General Nadeem Anjum, visited Kabul last month to convey Pakistan’s deep concerns to the top Taliban’s interim government authorities over the repeated terrorist attacks by the militant groups based in Afghanistan, particularly, the TTP and IS-KP.

The Pak-US counterterrorism dialogue is also followed by the recent release of “Country Reports on Terrorism 2021” by the US State Department, in which Washington recognises Pakistan’s steps in 2021 to counter terror financing and to restrain some India-focused militant groups.

In its report, the State Department maintained that the TTP aims to push the government of Pakistan out of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and establish Shariah by waging a terrorist campaign against the Pakistani military and state.

It added that the organisation uses the tribal belt along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to train and deploy its operatives, and the group has ties to al-Qaeda (AQ). “TTP draws ideological guidance from AQ, while elements of AQ rely in part on TTP for safe haven in the Pashtun areas along the Afghanistan-Pakistani border. This arrangement has given TTP access to both AQ’s global terrorist network and its members’ operational expertise,” the report further warned.

In its report, the State Department also noted that Pakistan experienced significant terrorist activity in 2021 with a number of attacks and casualties higher than in 2020. Major terrorist groups that focused on conducting attacks in Pakistan included TTP, the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), and ISIS-K, it noted.

It stated that separatist militant groups conducted terrorist attacks against varied targets in Balochistan and Sindh provinces. Terrorists used a range of tactics to attack varied targets, including IEDs, VBIEDs, suicide bombings, and targeted assassinations, it added.

In 2018, the report mentioned that Pakistan was designated a “Country of Particular Concern” (CPC) under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 and it was re-designated a CPC in 2019, 2020, and 2021.

March 7, 2023

Source: Business Recorder

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