Pakistan foils terror bid, seizes arms smuggled from Afghanistan

A security official inspects a seized weapon after Pakistani authorities impounded a truck attempting to smuggle weapons from Afghanistan into Pakistan via the Torkham border on Dec. 13, 2019. (Photo courtesy: KP Customs Department)
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Updated 15 December 2019

Pakistan foils terror bid, seizes arms smuggled from Afghanistan

  • KP information minister says authorities suspect an organized group behind the smuggling
  • 207 weapons of different brands were concealed in a truck crossing Torkham border to enter Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani authorities on Friday impounded a truck carrying a huge arms cache coming from Afghanistan via Torkham border, an anti-narcotics official said on Sunday.
The illicit crossing over of arms, drugs and other illegal materials at Torkham, the major border crossing between Afghanistan and Pakistan, is not uncommon.
In January this year, hundreds of weapons were seized concealed inside a coal truck entering Pakistan from Afghanistan. In June last year, Afghan forces seized a huge bomb-making cache in the back of a vegetable truck crossing over from Pakistan.
“While passing through the transit scanners, the truck coming from Afghanistan was found suspicious on Friday. A thorough search of the truck led the customs department, Anti-Narcotics Force (ANF) and other security officials to recover 207 weapons of different brands including Tomahawk and Maverick guns with Turkish made seals,” Raffaqat Hussain, a sub-inspector of the ANF, told Arab News at the busy Pak-Afghan Torkham border in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
However, the arms smugglers inside the truck, including the driver of the vehicle, managed to flee after the truck was seized. A passport belonging to the driver was found on the dashboard of the vehicle, Hussain said. He added that the weapons were masterfully concealed inside the truck’s hidden cavities.
KP’s provincial Information Minister Shaukat Yousafzai told Arab News that his government had ‘zero tolerance’ for banned items including arms and narcotics to and from Afghanistan.
“Yes, a truck carrying arms from Afghanistan has been impounded but investigations are in initial process and its findings cannot be made public at this point,” Yousafzai said.
“The officials concerned suspect an organized group behind the botched arms’ smuggling attempt. A looming threat of terror has been foiled but investigations are underway to reach to the depth of the issue,” he added.
Authorities said that a case had been lodged and all concerned departments from police to Khasadar and counter-terrorism forces, were involved in the investigation.
Yousafzai said Pakistan and Afghanistan shared a long porous border but provincial authorities had intensified efforts to discourage illegal business and smuggling along the border areas.
In July this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed all concerned departments to initiate a countrywide crackdown on smuggling, in an Islamabad meeting.
Also in that meeting, it was unanimously decided that a committee would be formed, to be headed by the interior minister, to systemize transit trade and curb smuggling at Pak-Afghan and Pak-Iran border areas.

Alice Wells discusses Afghan peace process with Islamabad

Updated 21 January 2020

Alice Wells discusses Afghan peace process with Islamabad

  • Islamabad reaffirms commitment to the Afghan peace process, says FO
  • Wells is in Islamabad since Sunday on a four-day visit

ISLAMABAD: The chief US diplomat for South Asian affairs, Alice G. Wells, on Tuesday discussed the ongoing Afghan reconciliation process with Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Sohail Mahmood in Islamabad, ahead of an expected US-Taliban peace agreement.

The principal deputy assistant secretary for South and Central Asian affairs at the US State Department has been in Pakistan since Sunday on a four-day visit to discuss a host of issues of bilateral interest, including the Afghan peace process.

US-Taliban talks have been ongoing in the Qatari capital, Doha, where they are moving toward a peace deal. 

Pakistan has been involved in bringing the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table with the US to restore peace in the region.

“The two sides (Pakistan and the US) ... discussed recent developments regarding the Afghan peace and reconciliation process,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office said in a statement after the hours-long meeting between Wells and Mahmood.

During the meeting, the statement said Pakistan, has “reaffirmed its resolve to continue to support the peace process and pursue positive development of Pakistan-Afghanistan relations.”

This is the second time in recent months the US and Taliban have appeared close to announcing a peace deal. 

In September, President Donald Trump abruptly called off the talks in response to a suicide bombing in Kabul that killed an American soldier.

Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen said on Monday in a Twitter post that a three-member team representing the Taliban – Mullah Baradar Akhund, Sher Muhammad Abbas Stanekzai and Amir Khan Muttaqqi – met with US special envoy for Afghan reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad and Gen. Scott Miller, the US and NATO commander in Afghanistan.

Experts have termed the recent negotiations between the US and Taliban decisive and are expecting them to reach an agreement by the end of this month.

“Taliban have already agreed on a violence reduction in Afghanistan that was one of the key demands of the US. So, it means both sides are close to a significant peace pact,” Rahimullah Yousafzai, an expert on Afghanistan and Taliban affairs, told Arab News.

He said that Pakistan has played a crucial role in bringing the Taliban to the negotiating table by using its influence over the militants. “Alice Wells may discuss the pros and cons of the proposed peace agreement with Pakistan’s top civilian and military leadership during her meetings,” he said.