Pakistan’s army chief says his country is sharing “unprecedented” levels of intelligence with Afghanistan and both countries are working “hand in glove” to eradicate the menace of terrorism.
"Enemies of Afghanistan are enemies of Pakistan,” General Raheel Sharif said during an unannounced visit Tuesday to Kabul. He spoke to reporters alongside Afghanistan’s chief executive, Abdullah Abdullah.
Abdullah said “concrete steps” had been taken by both sides to normalize their relationship. Ties between Kabul and Islamabad had been tense during the previous Afghan administration of President Hamid Karzai, who often blamed Pakistan for providing “safe havens” to groups that carried out cross-border attacks into Afghanistan.
This was General Sharif's third trip to Afghanistan since President Ashraf Ghani's inauguration, and his second since a devastating attack on a school in Peshawar two months ago that killed 134 children and 16 adults.
Afghanistan has helped Pakistan arrest some members of the cell that carried out that attack, according to military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa.
Senior officials at the Afghan embassy in Islamabad say Ghani was pleased following his meeting with the Pakistani general and that he could envision a new era of cooperation if the level of commitment promised by Pakistan is delivered.
Afghan officials say a recent operation by the Pakistan army in the North Waziristan tribal area has disrupted the infrastructure that supported attacks on Afghanistan. However, they say members of the Afghan Taliban are still not directly targeted, particularly groups like the Haqqani network, which has caused the most damage to Afghan and international forces supporting the Kabul government.
Pakistan says it is going after all militants — both those that target Pakistan and those that target neighboring countries.
Security cooperation between the two countries has increased significantly under President Ghani. But some Afghan officials have indicated they are “waiting” to get a quid pro quo from Pakistan for all the help they have provided in tracking and catching members of the Pakistani Taliban.
Afghanistan would like Pakistan to use its influence with the Afghan Taliban to facilitate possible peace negotiations. Pakistan says it supports an “Afghan led, Afghan owned” peace process.
Pakistan would like Afghanistan to help capture Mullah Fazlullah, the head of the outlawed Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan or TTP, who is believed to be taking shelter in Afghanistan’s Kunar province.
The Pakistani army chief was accompanied by the director general of the ISI intelligence agency on his one-day trip to Kabul. He met with civilian and military leaders including President Ghani. A statement released afterwards said Pakistan ensured Afghanistan of its commitment, and that its "efforts will become clearer in the near future."