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Pakistan army chief visits Kabul after school attack

KABUL: Pakistan’s powerful army chief General Raheel Sharif visited Kabul Wednesday to meet with Afghanistan’s president for talks on enhancing intelligence cooperation a day after Taliban militants killed 141 people at a school in the country’s northwest.

Sharif, who was accompanied by the head of the Pakistan’s main intelligence agency, the ISI, is set to meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and ISAF commander General John Campbell, according to a brief statement by the military.

Some of the militants who attacked the army-run school in Peshawar Tuesday spoke in Arabic, a senior security official told AFP, which he said suggested that they had links over the border in Afghanistan.

“The army chief is likely to take Afghan leadership on board on this issue,” the security official said, adding that the handing over of Pakistani Taliban chief Mullah Fazlullah, who is believed to be hiding in northeastern Afghanistan, may also figure at the talks in Kabul.

Afghanistan routinely accuses Pakistan of providing shelter within its borders to the Afghan Taliban, while Pakistan accuses Afghanistan of protecting members of the Pakistani Taliban.

Analysts said the visit was intended to further cooperation against militants group along the countries’ shared border.

“The army chief is obviously interested that Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Maulana Fazlullah and his group is arrested and handed over to Pakistan or eliminated so that they do not use Afghan territory for launching attacks against Pakistan as happened in Peshawar on Tuesday,” retired general and security analyst Talat Masood told AFP.

“General Sharif wants to strengthen military-to-military and intelligence-to-intelligence level cooperation between the two countries otherwise sanctuaries in Afghanistan will be used against Pakistan,” he added.

Pakistan’s powerful army and intelligence services are widely seen as being the driving force behind the country’s defence and foreign policies.

Afghanistan is facing its own surge in violence as US-led NATO troops pull out by the end of the year and are replaced by a 12,500-strong support mission tasked with advising and assisting the Afghan security forces.

Recent deadly attacks have targeted army buses, mine clearance teams and foreign compounds in Kabul.

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