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Former ISI boss Faiz Hameed is in Kabul again—this time to reopen dialogue with the deadly Pakistan Taliban

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ormer ISI boss Faiz Hameed is in Kabul again

Former Pakistani ISI chief Lt General Faiz Hameed is back in the news again. The controversial Commander of Peshawar Corps,  Hameed is in Kabul and holding talks with the militant outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).  Sirajuddin Haqqani, Taliban’s tainted Interior Minister, is playing mediator in the delicate exercise.  

“A delegation from Pakistani authorities is currently in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, including former head of Pakistan’s ISI and current Corps Commander Peshawar Faiz Hameed, with the Afghan Taliban Playing the role of a mediator,” says Naya Daur TV citing sources. 

As per the conditions set by the TTP supremo Nur Wali Mehsud, the Pakistani security agencies have promised to handover the two dreaded TTP commanders Mahmood Khan and Muslim Khan to the negotiating team, but this would be done only after some progress was made in the talks.

These two commanders were arrested by the Pakistan Army during an operation in Swat in 2015. In return, the TTP has extended the earlier announced ceasefire during Eid, till May 15. 

The TTP commander Muslim Khan known as 'Butcher of Swat' was sentenced to death by a military court in Dec 2016.

Islamabad has been increasingly frustrated by attacks across the border from Afghanistan since the Taliban took control of Kabul in August--an issue that has become a source of unbearable tension between the two . Last month a Pakistani airstrike in eastern Afghanistan killed 47 people. Infuriated Taliban leaders warned Pakistan that they would “retaliate” if Pakistan carries out more cross-border strikes. 

Pakistan had hoped that the Taliban rulers would hand over the TTP militants to them, but belying Islamabad's expectations the new rulers of Afghanistan did not take any harsh measures against their TTP comrades-in-arms.

Taliban instead of taking any action against the TTP persuaded Pakistan to enter into talks with them, which Islamabad did in the vain hope that the Afghan Taliban would use their influence to control the TTP. 

The Taliban have been insisting that Pakistani leaders accommodate the TTP with peace talks. The new coalition government in Pakistan, led by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, has been put under pressure as the TTP has intensified its attacks. 

According to Pakistani watchers, there is a belief that Lt Gen. Hameed has good relations with the Taliban rulers including the Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani though he has fallen from grace after former premier Imran Khan openly came out in his support. There were reports that Khan was mulling to replace the Pakistani army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa with Hameed. 

Many Pakistani watchers believe there has been a patch-up between General Bajwa and Lt Gen. Hameed.  Hameed’s latest assignment in Kabulis an indication of that.

A “blue-eyed” general of former premier Khan,  Hameed is still the point person who was seen in Kabul last year “helping” the Taliban to form a government. He also helped the Taliban in winning the battle in Panjshir Valley. According to media reports, Hameed was coordinating the offensive by the Pakistan army and the Pakistan Air Force helicopter gunships and drones to target the National Resistance Front positions. 

Hameed is in Kabul at a time when a pitched battle is going on between the Taliban and anti-Taliban National Resistance Front (NRF). There have been reports that the TTP fighters are now fighting along with the elder brother the Taliban, making it difficult for the Kabul rulers to compromise with the Pakistanis.

Also Read: Pakistan Taliban vows to step up war for free homeland, tells Pakistani soldiers to give up arms