Kabul asks Pakistan to ‘stop being cruel’ to refugees

Published January 9, 2024
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman meets Afghan Taliban leaders in visit to Kabul on Monday. — Photo courtesy JUI-F/X
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman meets Afghan Taliban leaders in visit to Kabul on Monday. — Photo courtesy JUI-F/X

PESHAWAR: Calling on the Pakistani authorities to end their “cruel attitude” towards Afghan refugees, Mullah Muhammad Hassan Akhund, the acting prime minister of the Afghan Taliban regime, on Monday said such an attitude only exacerbated frustration and opposition.

“Such attitudes do not resolve issues,” Mr Akhund said, while talking to a delegation led by JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman at the Presidential Palace in Kabul, according to a statement released by the Taliban regime’s media department.

Mullah Akhund said the ‘Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan’ had no intention of causing harm to Pakistan or any other country for that matter, nor would it allow anyone to use the Afghan soil against any country.

The meeting was atten­ded, among others, by Chief Justice of Afghan­istan Maulavi Abdul Hak­eem Haqqani and acting Foreign Minister Maulavi Ameer Khan Muttaqi.

Welcoming the delegation, Mullah Akhund said the visit would help strengthen positive relations between the two countries.

Maulana Fazl is leading a nine-member delegation to the Afghan capital at the invitation of the Afghan Taliban to help arrest the deteriorating relationship between the two countries and put ties back on track.

Pakistan accuses the Afghan Taliban of sheltering the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Paki­stan (TTP). The Afghan Taliban deny this and have instead urged Pakistan to look inward and address its own internal security challenges.

Islamabad says the TTP has ratcheted up attacks inside Pakistan since the Afghan Taliban came to power in August 2021.

At a news conference last week, the Afghan defence minister alleged that ISKP (Islamic State-Khorasan Prov­ince) militants were operating from Pakistan to carry out attacks in Afghanistan.

The Pakistan government’s decision to deport nearly half a million undocumented Afghans caused further fissures in the already strained relations between the two sides, prompting Kabul to accuse Islamabad of leveraging the refugees issue as pressure and coercive tool.

During the meeting, FM Muttaqi raised the issue of treatment meted out to Afghan refugees and hurdles created by the Pakistani authorities in the transit trade and exports which, he said, was causing huge losses to the Afghan traders.

He stressed that bilateral trade should not be subservient to political issues between the two countries.

Speaking on the occasion, Maulana Fazl said the purpose of his visit was to remove misunderstanding and explore ways to enhance cooperation between the two countries in political, economic and trade spheres.

He said his party had opposed the treatment meted out to the Afghan refugees in Pakistan and asserted that such an attitude was the root cause of the problem between the two sides. “We have come here with a message of goodwill and we hope that this visit would yield positive results,” he added.

Government officials say the JUI-F leader was sufficiently sansitised on Pakistan’s key concerns vis-à-vis the TTP’s presence in Afghanistan and the freedom of action and movement that the banned outfit enjoyed under the ‘IEA’ patronage.

The Afghan Taliban statement did not make any reference to this contentious issue and only obliquely referred to the oft-repeated statement of the Taliban regime that it would not allow anyone to use the Afghan soil against any country.

It was not clear from the statement whether the JUI-F chief raised the issue at the meeting or what the response was from his Afghan hosts.

It was also not clear whether Maulana Fazl would have any contact with the leadership of the banned militant outfits on the sidelines of his meetings with the Afghan Taliban leadership.

Published in Dawn, January 9th, 2024

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