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    Tuesday, 30 January 2018

    Pakistan hands over 27 Taliban, Haqqani network suspects to Kabul

    Pakistan has handed over more than two dozen suspects belonging to the Taliban and their affiliated Haqqani network to Afghanistan, the Foreign Office said on Tuesday.

    The unprecedented move appears to be aimed at dispelling the oft-repeated allegations that Islamabad is supporting violent insurgency in Afghanistan.
    The handover took place in November last year just weeks after the maiden visit of army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa to Kabul. However, the extradition of 27 suspected members of the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network was kept confidential till now.
    Following the string of terrorist attacks over the last few days in Kabul, Islamabad has been again accused by senior Afghan officials for providing shelter to the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network.
    That latest diatribe seemed to have compelled Pakistan to make public its efforts against the Afghan insurgents, including the Haqqani network.
    Foreign Offices spokesperson Dr Muhammad Faisal took to the microblogging site twitter to release the information.
    “Pakistan continues to push any suspected TTA & HN elements to prevent them from using our soil for any terrorist activity in Afghanistan,” he said in a tweet.“In this context, 27 individuals suspected of belonging to TTA & HN have been handed over to Afghanistan in November 2017,” he also tweeted.However, he would not say as to what exactly prompted the government to make the announcement at this stage.

    But officials familiar with the development told The Express Tribunethat Pakistan had to release the information in order to brush aside the impression that it was not doing enough in the fight against terrorism.
    One official pointed out that Afghanistan continued to blame Pakistan despite the fact that its leadership was aware of Islamabad’s efforts against the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network.
    While the Foreign Office confirmed the handover of certain Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network suspects, it would not share details, including the identities of those who have been handed over to Afghanistan.
    Kabul in the past asked Islamabad to hand over Afghan insurgents allegedly hiding in Pakistan. Few years back, Pakistan released certain Afghan Taliban commanders in an effort to revive the Afghan peace talks.
    But this was the first time that members of the Afghan Taliban and Haqqani network were directly transferred to Afghanistan.
    The announcement came as pressure is mounting on Pakistan to do more against the Haqqani network. In the wake of the latest wave of violence in Afghanistan, President Donald Trump ruled out the possibility of talks with the Taliban in the near future.
    Afghan President Ashraf Ghani joined Trump in saying that the Afghan Taliban had to be defeated militarily.
    Pakistan, however, has a different stance, insisting that the only viable option to resolve the deadly conflict is through Afghan-owned and Afghan-led peace process.
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