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Saturday, June 15, 2024  
08 Dhul-Hijjah 1445  

Fazl confirms meeting Afghan Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada

JUI-F chief says main purpose of visit was to solve problems through mutual understanding
A combination of file photos show JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and Afghan Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada. Online/AFP
A combination of file photos show JUI-F chief Fazlur Rehman and Afghan Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada. Online/AFP
Photo via X/@juipakofficial
Photo via X/@juipakofficial

JUI-F Fazlur Rehman has confirmed meeting Afghan Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada during his visit to Afghanistan, becoming the first Pakistani leader to have met the reclusive Taliban chief.

“The main purpose of the visit was to solve the problems through mutual understanding,” he told Afghanistan’s Mili TV, a Pashto language news channel. He thanked the Taliban chief for the welcoming gesture.

Fazl returned to Pakistan after almost a weeklong trip to Afghanistan where he met with all top Afghan Taliban leaders. His visit had come after Sardar Ahmad Jan Shakib, the interim ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan, called on him last month to discuss “the need for peace” in the region currently plagued by terrorism.

On Friday, the Foreign Office distanced itself from Fazl’s visit to the neighbouring country, saying that the religio-political leader did not visit the state as an emissary of the Government of Pakistan.

“He is there in his individual capacity,” FO spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch said at the weekly media briefing.

According to the JUI-F statements on X, Fazl was confident to break the ice between the two sides and resolve issues.

In the interview which was conducted in Pashto, Fazl thanked God that the objectives of the visit were achieved and described his meeting with Akhundzada as positive.

He rebuffed the impression that the two countries were against each other and added that the purpose of the visit was that both sides work together.

The JUI-F went on to add that it was his first visit to Afghanistan after the takeover by the Afghan Taliban in August 2021. The interim government, since coming to power, has imposed numerous restrictions on women and girls, with laws the UN has labelled “gender apartheid”.

He admitted that there were some tensions after the takeover of the Taliban. In the recent past, both sides have accused each other of attacks.

In November, caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar demanded that the Afghan Taliban government should take action against the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan.

On Saturday, Afghanistan closed its side of the Torkham crossing for trade over document rules for commercial vehicle drivers crossing the border.

Fazl reiterated that the motive for his visit was to ease Pakistan-Afghanistan tensions. He was of the view that his trip paved the way for resolving issues by sitting together.

He termed trade as a basic need, adding that both countries have the same culture. The JUI-F chief alleged that some countries were trying to create fissures between them.

The religio-political further confirmed that he met with all responsible people during his “historic” visit. “I arrived in Afghanistan with a message of love from the Pakistani nation. We have to forward by ending old grudges,” he said and claimed that a new era would begin after his trip.

While speaking about Afghan refugees, he stated that there were some concerns about the way they were evicted from Pakistan.

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Pakistan started expelling illegal Afghan immigrants from their country after the November 1 deadline ended. The South Asian country claimed that many Afghan nationals were involved in a series of terrorist attacks last year.

Fazl stated that he and his party have treated Afghan refugees as guests in Pakistan.

In response to a query, he said: “I am not [part of] government in Pakistan. I am the leader of a party and we have made all possible efforts related to refugees.”

He went on to add that the issue of TTP was “extremely important” and both sides were serious about it.

“I wish that all Islamic countries and other countries support the Islamic Emirate at the diplomatic level,” he said and added that they would never interfere in the internal matter of Afghanistan.

“I can bear my loss, but never that of a friend,” he said and thanked the interim Taliban government for the invitation.

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afghanistan

Maulana Fazlur Rehman

JUIF

Haibatullah Akhundzada

maulana fazal ur rehman

Jamiat Ulema e Islam Fazl

Afghan Taliban government

afghan taliban