US designates members of Pakistan armed groups as ‘terrorists’

The designation includes leaders of the South Asia-based al-Qaeda branch and the so-called Pakistani Taliban.

Islamabad, Pakistan – The United States has declared three members of al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent (AQIS) and one senior Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) official as “terrorists”.

A statement on Thursday named AQIS “emir” Osama Mehmood, Deputy Emir Atif Yahya Ghouri, and Muhammad Maruf, who handles recruiting for the armed group, on his “Specially Designated Global Terrorists” list.

Qari Amjad, the deputy chief of the TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, was also mentioned. Amjad oversees operations in Pakistan’s northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

According to the pronunciation“all property and interests of those designated … who are under the jurisdiction of the U.S. are barred, and it is generally prohibited for all U.S. persons to enter into any transaction with them”.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is “determined to use its full set of counter-terrorism tools” to remove the threat posed by armed groups operating in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The decision, Blinken said, demonstrates “our relentless efforts to ensure that terrorists do not use Afghanistan as a platform for international terrorism.”

“We will continue to use all relevant tools to fulfill our commitment to ensure that international terrorists cannot operate with impunity in Afghanistan,” he added.

The US decision was announced following the statement by the Pakistani Taliban earlier this week that they formally ended a six-month ceasefire with the government of Pakistan.

The group has claimed responsibility for the recent attack on a police vehicle in Quetta, the provincial capital of Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province, which left four people dead.

In response to the US listing, the TTP expressed regret over the decision on Friday, saying the group has no “foreign agenda”.

“The TTP has made it clear to America and other foreign powers that we are fighting to achieve our religious and nationalistic goals. We have no foreign agenda,” said a TTP statement.

The US announcement was followed by a press release from the US Central Command, which revealed that the commander, General Michael Kurilla, had a teleconference with Pakistan’s new army chief, General Asim Munir.

It said the two “discussed security cooperation efforts between the US and Pakistan and strengthened the bilateral relationship”.

On Wednesday, Pakistani Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the government has not reached a settlement with the TTP and pledged to respond strongly to a rising wave of violence.

Sanaullah said the decision to enter into peace negotiations with the TTP was made only on the condition that the armed group put down its arms.

However, the minister said that some TPP factions wanted to continue the fight against the state of Pakistan. He also said the burgeoning violence should be a concern for the Afghan Taliban, who have facilitated negotiations between the Pakistani government and the TTP.

The Afghan Taliban took over the country in August last year after US troops withdrew.

Pakistan has repeatedly asked the Afghan Taliban government to ensure that its territory is not used by the TTP to carry out attacks across their borders.

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Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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