Afghan diplomat says Taliban govt already declared ‘attack on Pakistan not jihad’

PESHAWAR: A top Afghanistan diplomat said Wednesday that the Islamic Emirate — or the Taliban administration — had already issued a fatwa (decree) that launching attacks in “Pakistan is not jihad” (holy war).

Hafiz Mohibullah Shakir, the acting consul general at the Afghan Consulate in Peshawar, stated that the neighbouring country’s defence ministry had also made it clear that attacking Pakistan did not fall under jihad.

The Pakistani government has time and again stressed that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) terrorists have safe havens in Afghanistan and that the neighbouring nation’s soil was being used for attacks on Pakistan.

Since the Afghan Taliban took over the reins of government in 2021, Pakistan has witnessed a rise in terror incidents with 2023 being the deadliest in eight years, despite months left in its conclusion, with officials also saying that Afghan nationals were involved in attacks on security forces.

Asif Durrani, Pakistan’s special representative on Afghanistan, said that the banned TTP’s attacks on Pakistan along the borders have increased and that they were “taking shelter on the Afghan soil”.

In response to Pakistan’s repeated insistence on taking action, the interim Afghan rulers arrested 200 suspected militants involved in attacks against Pakistan, Voice of America reported last month, citing Pakistani officials privy to the development.

Interim Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani and his Taliban counterpart, Amir Khan Muttaqi, met on the sidelines of a China-hosted international conference earlier this month.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in a statement, said Jilani “underscored that challenges confronting regional peace and stability be addressed in collaborative spirit through collective strategies”.

Shakir said the TTP militants had migrated to Afghanistan during former US-backed Afghan president Ashraf Ghani’s tenure — 2014-2021. He was overthrown by the Taliban.

“I want to make it clear: No attacks will be launched from Afghanistan on Pakistan,” the envoy added.

The government in Islamabad has ordered illegal Afghan refugees in Pakistan to exit the country by November 1 or face deportation, with the deadline just five days away and millions of Afghans residing in the country.

“We have no objections to the decision taken regarding Afghan refugees, but an appropriate method should be adopted to send them back,” the acting Afghan consul general said.

He said it would be better if the Afghan refugees were given time to wrap up their affairs in Pakistan. “We have also made arrangments for their arrival [in Afghanistan],” he added.

“People can now continue doing their business in Afghanistan. But indeed, it will be hard for Afghan refugees initially when they come back,” Shakir also said.

The caretaker government, earlier this month, had directed all “aliens” — including 1.73 million Afghan nationals — to leave the country following a series of terrorist attacks in which Afghan nationals were found to be responsible for 14 of 24 suicide bombings.

The United Nations (UN) has also said that refugees residing in Pakistan should be allowed to exit the country voluntarily and no pressure should be exerted on them.

Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees since the Soviet Union’s invasion in 1979.

The United States has also “strongly” encouraged Afghanistan’s neighbours, including Pakistan, to allow entry for Afghans seeking protection and urged them to uphold obligations in the treatment of refugees, the US State Department said last week.

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