Afghan leaders saddened over Afzal Khan Lala passing
KABUL (Pajhwok): Veteran Pashtun nationalist leader Afzal Khan Lala passed away in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, on Sunday due to protracted illness. He was 89.
His Namaz-i-Janaza was offered at his ancestral village Darvesh Kalay in Matta, Swat at 4:30 pm.
Awami National Party (ANP) leader Afrasiyab Khattak announced Afzal Khan Lala’s demise on his Tweeter account, calling his death “a great loss for Pashtuns. Khattak said Afzal Khan Lala, a champion of Pakhtun national unity, was no more, but his mission would continue.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief and sorrow over the demise of the veteran leader and lauded his services for democracy in the country.
Political leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan sent out messages on social media to condole the death of the senior leader.
Another ANP senior leader Mian Iftikhar Hussain also tweeted that the soul of the brave Afzal Khan Lala may rest in peace. “I am very sad at his demise, offered dua for him during a function in New York.”
Politician and civil society activist Aimal Khattak told Pajhwok Afghan News from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that Afzal Khan Lala’s health condition suddenly deteriorated on Saturday and he was rushed to Shifa International Hospital in Islamabad, where he breathed his last on Sunday morning.
He said the veteran leader was laid to rest after his funeral prayers in Dorushkhela area of Swat valley.
The announcement of Afzal Khan Lala’s death was quickly circulated on the social media by hundreds of his supporters.
Afzal Khan Lala maintained good relations with the Afghanistan government during the past 14 years during which he many times visited Kabul.
When Taliban militants captured Swat district in 2009, Afzal Khan resisted them and turned down requests to leave the valley. He had been guarded by relatives and ANP members. In a recent interview he said from his house in Swat that “he refuses to leave the area to Taliban: "I shall die but will not leave the ground to militants."
Meanwhile, former Afghan president Hamid Karzai said in a statement that he was deeply saddened by the news that the veteran politician, social and cultural figure in (Khyber) Pakhunkhwa, Mohammad Afzal Khan, was no more.
He said Afzal Khan Lala was a sincere Pashtun leader and ideologist, a great writer and literary figure who with his high courage and determination always offered untiring efforts at uniting the Afghans. Karzai said Afzal Khan had endured many hardships working for the unity and development of Pashtuns.
Afghan National Security Advisor Mohammad Hanif Atmar expressed his grief over Khan’s death, saying his efforts at winning democratic rights for the people of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa spanned 70 years.
Border and Tribal Affairs Minister Gulab Khan Mangal said Afzal Khan Lala, a well-wisher of the Afghan people, considered the Afghans his own people from historic perspective and always shared their grief and plight.
He said Afzal Khan was against violence, injustices and conflicts and campaigned his entire life for the unity, development, education and sovereigntyof the Afghan nation.
Independent Directorate of Local Governance (IDLG) chief Ghulam Jilani Popal said the death of Afzal Khan Lala was a great loss. He said Khan spent most of his life struggling for the rights of Pashtuns. He said Afzal Khan maintained good relations with the Afghan government and had made many trips to Kabul. .
Laghman governor Abdul Jabbar Naeemi, the Afghan ambassador in Islamabad Janan Musazai and dozens of other Afghans expressed their grief and sorrow over the demise of Afzal Khan Lala on their social media accounts.
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