Kabul visit: Peace drive on JUI-F chief agenda
KABUL (PAN): Pro-Taliban Pakistani political leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman is expected to arrive on a three-day visit to Afghanistan in a couple of days at the invitation of President Hamid Karzai, a media report said on Monday.
Also the head of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-F), his last trip to Afghanistan was the late 1990s when the Taliban were in power. During that visit, he had met Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in Kandahar.
In view of his clout with the Afghan Taliban, Karzai recently invited him to visit Kabul and persuade insurgent leaders to join the reconciliation process, The News reported. Dates are being kept secret for security reasons, but the visit could begin in a day or two.
Fazlur Rehman told the newspaper he was to meet President Karzai during his recent visit to Islamabad but time constraints prevented their talks. “He had requested the meeting and I had agreed ... but we couldn’t meet and now he has invited me to visit Afghanistan.”
Asked if he would be willing and able to facilitate peace talks between the Karzai government and the Taliban, the JUI-F head replied his views had been known with regard to the Afghan conflict.
“We have been pro-Taliban and against the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan. We support reconciliation between different Afghan groups and for this purpose all sides to the conflict have to talk to each other.
"However, it is up to the Afghan Taliban to decide how to go about it as their first priority is the withdrawal of all foreign troops from Afghanistan,” he explained.
Also on the agenda is the issue of Pakistani prisoners in Afghanistan and the visiting team will seek the release of those who have been cleared or are being held for petty offenses.
Maulana Abdul Wase, the party’s parliamentary leader in the Balochistan Assembly, former senator Maulana Gul Naseeb Khan and Jan Mohammad Achakzai, the JUI-F spokesman, and Fazlur Rahman’s secretary Mufti Ibrar will be part of the delegation.
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