ISLAMABAD: How Afghan Taliban supremo Mullah Mohammad Omar came to Pakistan? How he died in a Karachi hospital two year ago, as claimed by the Afghan government on Wednesday?
These questions were asked by some opposition members in the National Assembly on Thursday, only to be met with a mysterious silence from the treasury benches that is bound to lead to speculations for quite some time whether the one-time “Amir-ul-Momineen” of the Taliban regime in Afghanistan during 1996-2001 spent some time hiding in Pakistan.
Two lawmakers who raised the issue complained the government was keeping parliament in the dark, and one of them noted the absence of a foreign minister even in the third year of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government.
Pakistan has been denying in the past that Mullah Omar was given refuge at any time in Pakistan after his regime was toppled by a US-led invasion of Afghanistan in late 2001, as it did about the presence of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden until he was killed by US commandos in a May 2, 2011 helicopter raid on his hideout in Abbottabad.
First it was Abdul Rashid Godail, deputy parliamentary leader of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, who wondered why the government had not responded to the Afghan government’s report that Mullah Omar died in Pakistan as early as two years ago.
“How Mullah Omar was in Pakistan,” he asked.
Shirin Mazari of the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf was more vociferous in questioning the government on the issue.
“Our government tells us nothing; this is condemnable,” she said. “The government should have given a statement.”
She also regretted that that the government had not briefed the house about the prime minister’s meeting with his Indian counterpart Narendra Modi early this month in the Russian city of Ufa. But there was nobody on the treasury benches apparently competent enough at the time to speak on the issue.
Interior Minister Chau-dhry Nisar Ali Khan had come to the house but had left before that after the question hour.
His number two, Minister of State Mohammad Balighur Rehman, seemed to turn a deaf ear while neither Speaker Sardar Ayaz Sadiq nor Deputy Speaker Murtaza Javed Abbasi, who chaired the proceedings when the issue came up twice, would ask for a response by a minister.
And, surprisingly, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leader of the government-allied Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-F, well known for his party’s one-time affinity with the Afghan Taliban, kept mum.
Published in Dawn, July 31st, 2015