Pakistan will host a two-day meeting with the United States starting Monday to discuss cooperation in countering what Pakistan’s foreign affairs ministry called the “common threat of terrorism” facing the two countries.
Christopher Landberg, the U.S. State Department’s acting coordinator for counterterrorism, will lead the U.S. interagency delegation in the talks, the ministry said Sunday.
“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 statement added.
A State Department announcement said last week that participants in the Islamabad meeting would “develop policy-oriented strategies regarding cooperation in critical areas such as border security and countering the financing of terrorism.”
The talks come against the backdrop of the resurgence in terrorist attacks in Pakistan being linked to the Taliban takeover of neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021.
The violence, mostly claimed by the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, known as the Pakistani Taliban, has killed hundreds of people across the country, most of them security forces.
Pakistani officials allege the TTP, an ideological offshoot and close ally of the Afghan Taliban, is plotting terrorism from sanctuaries in Afghanistan.
Last month, a high-level Pakistani security delegation visited Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, where they conveyed “serious concerns” to Taliban leaders about the TTP’s escalating terror campaign in Pakistan.
The Pakistani delegation shared “irrefutable” evidence with the Taliban about the presence and activities of TTP leaders in Afghanistan, calling for “practical steps” to rein in the terrorist activity, said officials who were privy to the talks.
An official post-meeting Taliban statement said the bilateral talks focused on “security concerns” and “activities of armed opposition groups,” among other issues. It did not elaborate on or mention the TTP.
“The Afghan Taliban remain very supportive of the TTP and are providing the group with a permissive safe haven. … Some Taliban fighters are also joining the TTP, and there are reports of some recent bombers being Afghan,” the U.S. Institute of Peace said in a recent report.
The Pakistani Taliban, designated a global terrorist group by the United States, provided recruits and shelter on Pakistani soil to the Afghan Taliban as they waged a deadly insurgency against U.S.-led NATO troops in Afghanistan for almost 20 years.
The Taliban stormed back to power in 2021 as foreign forces withdrew from Afghanistan. No foreign government has recognized them as legitimate rulers of the war-ravaged country, citing human rights and terrorism-related concerns.
The United States and other countries have urged the de facto Afghan authorities to prevent terrorist groups from plotting cross-border attacks, in line with Taliban assurances that they would combat transnational terrorists on Afghan soil.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price reiterated the demand at a recent news conference.
“The United States and Pakistan have a shared interest in ensuring the Taliban live up to the commitments that they have made, and that terrorist groups that may be active in Afghanistan – like ISIS-K, TTP, al-Qaida are no longer able to threaten regional stability,” Price said. He used an acronym for the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State terrorist group, known as Islamic State-Khorasan Province.
The Taliban maintain they are in control of all of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces and that no one is being allowed to threaten other countries.