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Pakistan to Appeal to Taliban Leader over Police Mosque Bombing

Sat 04 Feb 2023 | 08:45 PM
Israa Farhan

Islamabad will ask the secretive supreme leader of Afghanistan's Taliban to rein in militants in Pakistan after a suicide bombing killed scores of police in a mosque, according to officials on Saturday.

Since the Taliban's return to power in Kabul, Pakistan has seen a dramatic escalation in attacks in areas bordering Afghanistan, as militants use the rugged terrain to launch attacks and flee detection.

Detectives blamed a branch of the Pakistani Taliban - a militant group notorious in the region - for Monday's blast in Peshawar that killed 84 people inside a heavily fortified police headquarters.

The Pakistani Taliban shares a common lineage and ideals with the Afghan Taliban, led by Hebatullah Akhundzada who issues edicts from his hideout in the southern city of Kandahar.

Special Assistant to Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, Faisal Karim Kondi, said delegations would be sent to Tehran and Kabul to "ask them to ensure that their soil is not used by terrorists against Pakistan".

A senior Pakistani police official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Monday's blast took place, told AFP that the Kabul delegation will hold "talks with top brass."

"When we say top brass, it means... Afghan Taliban chief Hibatullah Akhundzada," he said on condition of anonymity.

Afghan officials did not immediately respond to AFP's request for comment.

However, on Wednesday Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi warned Pakistan should "not pass the blame to others".

"They should see the problems in their own house," he said. "Afghanistan should not be blamed."

During the 20-year US-led intervention in Afghanistan, Islamabad was accused of providing covert support to the Afghan Taliban even as the country declared a military alliance with the United States.

But since the ultra-conservatives took over Kabul in 2021, relations with Pakistan have deteriorated, in part because of the resurgence of the Pakistani Taliban, also known as TTP.