ISLAMABAD: The intelligence chiefs of China, Iran, Russia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Pakistan held an important virtual meeting in Islamabad on Saturday and deliberated on the developing situation in war-ravaged Afghanistan.
The high-level meeting comes days after Lt Gen Faiz Hameed’s return from Afghan capital Kabul, which he visited on the invitation of the Taliban.
An informed source said that the meeting of the intelligence chief was chaired by Inter-Services Intelligence Director-General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed. It may be noted that Pakistan’s foreign minister had also hosted virtual meeting of his counterparts from China, Iran, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan earlier this week for the same purpose. Russia, however, was conspicuously absent at the meeting.
“Security situation in Afghanistan and region was discussed during the meeting. Detailed discussion took place on long-lasting peace and security situation in the region. The long-term security situation in the region was discussed in detail,” the source said.
The source said that the intelligence chiefs also considered taking joint steps for lasting peace and stability in the region.
“Intelligence sharing was agreed upon between the heads of the intelligence agencies and an intelligence sharing mechanism was developed,” the source added.
According to the source, the meeting discussed the immediate future of regional security, economic and trade ties with the Taliban leadership.
Last week, the Taliban announced its new interim government, headed by Mohammad Hasan Akhund, with Abdul Ghani Baradar as his deputy.
Recent reports have suggested that Russia and some of the central Asian countries have some reservations about the recently announced interim government by Taliban. The situation took a grim turn after Taliban extended an invite to Pakistan, Iran, China, Russia, Qatar and Turkey to attend the oath-taking of the interim government. However, Russia announced to skip the oath-taking ceremony of Afghan Taliban government.
“Russia will not take part in any way in the Taliban government’s inauguration ceremony in Afghanistan,” Kremlin has said on Friday.
The speaker of Russia’s upper house of parliament said earlier this week that Russia would be represented at the inauguration by ambassador-level officials, the RIA news agency reported on Friday.
Interestingly, a social media account linked to Afghan government announced on Saturday that the Taliban regime has decided to call-off the oath-taking ceremony of the cabinet as an ‘austerity measure’.
Former Russian prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said in an op-ed that Russia and other central Asian countries could face a new wave of a migration crisis owing to the situation in Afghanistan, TASS news agency stated in a report.
Russia has also expressed concerns that with the rise of Taliban in Afghanistan, radical Islamist threats could emanate and spill over into Central Asia.
The meeting also discussed the measures required for peace and stability in the region following the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid has asked the international community to recognize the Taliban’s government in Afghanistan, assuring them that the group would address the issues various countries have put forth.
Last week, Lt Gen Hameed visited Kabul to meet with the Taliban representatives and discuss matters related to the safe evacuation of foreign nationals, border management, and security in the region, sources had said at the time.
The first-ever meeting of Afghanistan’s immediate neighbouring and regional countries intelligence chiefs has decided to enhance intelligence sharing and coordination for timely countering the threats of
terrorism from the presence of various terrorist groups in Afghanistan.
The official source said this meeting hosted by ISI Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed was part of the consultations by the ISI chief with his other counterparts to ensure that the Afghan soil is not used in future for terrorism.
According to the sources, ISI Chief Lt Gen Faiz Hameed took the participants of the meeting into confidence about his recent talks with CIA chief William J Burns in Islamabad and his talks last week with senior Taliban leaders in Kabul on how to fight and make coordinated efforts for timely countering terrorism threats from terror groups operating in Afghanistan.
The sources also said that the intelligence chiefs of participating countries agreed to remain in close contact and enhance intelligence sharing for timely response to counter terrorists’ threats.
According to the sources, China expressed its deep concerns over the presence of ETIP and hoped Taliban would take a timely action against the ETIM network which poses a direct threat to Chinese national security.
The Pakistani intelligence chief shared details of the terrorist activities carried out by TTP across Pakistan and sought cooperation from his counterparts in tackling this terrorist outfit.
The participation by Tajik intelligence chief and his assurance of full intelligence cooperation with Pakistan against terrorism in the meeting is highly significant. Tajikistan is hosting the SCO meeting next week in Dushanbe in which Prime Minister Imran Khan and other member countries will participate.
A source said the Tajik intelligence chief assured that Indian defence base in Tajikistan would not be allowed to work for any proxies in the region, particularly in Afghanistan.
Dmity Medvedev warns
In an Op-Ed published by the Gazeta.Ru news website on Saturday, Russian Security Council’s deputy chairman Dmitry Medvedev warned that tens of thousands of members of the militant Islamic State (IS) group were based in Afghanistan’s provinces close to borders with Central Asian countries, according to TASS news wire.
“According to the intelligence services, now the region numbers tens of thousands of the IS militants and their followers, with the significant part of them concentrated in the northern and eastern provinces bordering the Central Asian countries. The leadership of the Islamic State openly announced plans to spread its influence to the entire region,” Medvedev said.
CIA chief meets Gen Bajwa
Also on Wednesday, CIA chief William Burns during his visit to Pakistan met Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) Gen Qamar Bajwa and Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hamid. Burns had come here to share US concerns about the new situation and see how Pakistan can be helpful in dealing with them.
Earlier on Sept 4, the ISI DG had travelled to Afghanistan where he reportedly held meetings with the new Taliban regime. A source said he had in his meetings in Kabul, besides, other issues had emphasised on the urgent need for dealing with the terrorist threat from groups including ISIS, Al-Qaeda, ETIM, TTP, BLA, and Jundullah to the neighbouring countries.
Islamabad had while welcoming the formation of caretaker government in Afghanistan by the Taliban hoped that “the new political dispensation will ensure coordinated efforts for peace, security and stability in Afghanistan”.