• Interior ministry spokesman says there are no militant groups operating in Afghanistan
  • Says would never allow its soil be used by armed factions to launch attacks against other countries

ISLAMABAD: A top Afghan interior ministry official announced on Sunday his government had arrested about 40 Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants, over the past year, emphasizing Kabul’s desire to maintain good relations with all neighboring states.

This is the first time any Afghan official has said the authorities in his country have taken action against TTP fighters, who are accused by Pakistan of orchestrating attacks in areas near its western frontier.

Pakistan has recently experienced an increase in militant violence and suicide bombings, which its officials say have been perpetrated by TTP and associated groups based in Afghanistan. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar revealed last month his country had asked Kabul to choose between Pakistan or the militant network earlier this year following a deadly mosque bombing in Peshawar that killed about 100 worshippers.

The issue of TTP militants in Afghanistan has escalated tensions between the two countries, leading to Pakistan announcing the expulsion of unregistered foreigners, mainly Afghans, citing security concerns.

“Today, there is no [militant] group operating in Afghanistan,” Afghan interior ministry spokesman, Abdul Mateen Qani, told TOLOnews. “There are a large number of Daesh captives with us, and around 35 to 40 TTP [fighters] are imprisoned by us.”

He maintained Kabul wanted positive relations with Afghanistan’s neighbors and would not allow its soil to be used by armed factions to launch attacks against other countries.

He assured the Afghan media outlet any threat to his country’s security would be met with immediate action, with the responsible individuals or groups being identified and arrested.

Pakistan has said it wants authorities in Kabul to hand over militants targeting its security personnel and people in cross-border attacks.

Amid the mounting tensions, the Afghan authorities have invited a leading Pakistani religious politician, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, to Kabul, though the agenda of the visit has not been revealed by either side.

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