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Pakistani politician meets with Taliban chief in Kandahar

Pakistani politician meets with Taliban chief in Kandahar

By Islamuddin Sajid

ISLAMABAD (AA) – A key religiopolitical party leader in Pakistan Maulana Fazlur Rehman has met with Afghan Taliban supreme leader Mawlawi Hibatullah Akhundzada in Afghanistan's southern Kandahar province, local media said on Wednesday.

Leader of his own faction of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Maulana Fazlur Rehman arrived in Kabul this weekend with his delegation as part of his efforts to ease ongoing tensions between Islamabad and Kabul over various issues.

The Kabul-based Tolo News reported that Rehman is the first Pakistani leader to meet with Akhundzada since the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan in August 2021.

Earlier, Pakistani broadcaster Geo News reported Rehman traveling to Kandahar from Kabul and meeting with Akhundzada.

However, Afghan Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid did not respond to an Anadolu message seeking confirmation of the meeting.

Earlier on Monday, Rehman met with Afghanistan's acting Prime Minister Mullah Hasan Akhund, and acting Deputy Prime Minister Maulvi Abdul Kabir in Kabul.

Mujahid in a statement said Akhund welcomed the Pakistani delegation and expressed hope that the visit would lead to strengthening of brotherhood and positive relations between the two neighboring countries.

"Afghanistan and Pakistan are two countries that have many commonalities in different areas. Therefore, one cannot be separated from the other," Mujahid quoted Akhund as telling Rehman.

He also assured that Afghanistan has no intention of causing problems for any neighboring country, including Pakistan.

Rehman's visit to Kabul is seen as another effort to improve relations between the two countries, which have deteriorated in recent months due to rising terrorist attacks in Pakistan, which Islamabad blamed on Afghanistan for not taking action against the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella group of several militant groups allegedly operating from Afghanistan.

Pakistan’s caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar recently accused the interim Afghan administration of providing support to the TTP, which he claimed is using Afghan soil to plot cross-border attacks against Pakistan.

"During the last two years when the Afghan Taliban returned to power, terrorist attacks have increased by 60%, while suicide attacks increased by 500% in Pakistan," Kakar said.

However, the Afghan Taliban has always denied allowing the TTP to use Afghan territory against Pakistan. Kabul claims that terrorism is an internal problem in Pakistan and urges Islamabad to take action against terrorists rather than blaming Afghanistan.

Relations between the two countries deteriorated further after Pakistan began deporting undocumented foreigners, mostly Afghan refugees, in November of last year.

The Taliban condemned the action as "brutal" and urged Islamabad to halt the deportation of Afghan refugees.

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