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Afghanistan denies presence of Masood Azhar on its soil after Pak claim

by | Sep 15, 2022 | Afghanistan, Asia, India, Pakistan

Relations between Pakistan and the Taliban government have been strained since the group came to power in August 2021

New Delhi, September 15

Afghanistan and Pakistan are once again involved in a fight over Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s presence in Afghanistan.

Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid has rejected the Pakistan claim that Jaish-e-Mohammad chief Maulana Masood Azhar was in Afghanistan, and said he is, in fact, in Pakistan, Afghanistan’s local media outlet Tolo News said.

According to the Geo media house quoting the foreign ministry, Pakistan had written a letter to the Afghan authorities regarding the presence of Maulana Masood Azhar, the founding head of the banned JeM in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar and Kunar areas.

However, reacting to the letter, Islamic Emirate spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said, “The leader of the Jaish-e-Mohammad group is not here in Afghanistan. This is an organisation which could be in Pakistan. Anyway, he is not in Afghanistan, and we have not been asked anything like this. We have heard about it in the news. Our reaction is that this is not true,” reported Tolo News.

The spokesperson added, “Jaish-e-Mohammad chief is not in Afghanistan. Such organisations can operate on Pakistan’s soil – and even under official patronage. We’ll not allow anyone to use Afghanistan’s soil against any other country.”

Pakistan formally banned JeM on terrorism charges on January 14, 2002, during General Pervez Musharraf’s rule in Pakistan. India and several other countries then had raised the issue of blacklisting, banning and arresting the JeM leader, but China has always come to the rescue of Pakistan and blocked it on international platforms including UNSC meetings.

The Pakistan-Afghanistan tension is brewing up after three Pakistani soldiers were killed as a result of an attack by suspected militants from the Afghanistan side on September 14, which led to an exchange of fire between the two sides. Several deaths were reported.

Relations between Pakistan and the Taliban government have been strained since the group came to power in August 2021 due to border disputes and the presence of Tehreek-e-Taliban in Afghanistan.

In a separate incident on September 7, supporters of Afghanistan and Pakistan cricket teams in Sharjah fought with each other and vandalised the stadium after Afghanistan lost a match to Pakistan at the Cricket Stadium and in the nearby streets.

On August 9, India’s Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador Ruchira Kamboj took a veiled dig at China for delaying the attempt to blacklist Masood Azhar and other Pakistani terrorists. At a UNSC meeting, she observed, “An effective functioning of the Sanctions Committees requires them to become more transparent, accountable and objective. The practice of placing holds and blocks on listing requests without giving any justification must end”.

India, Pakistan, China, Russia and many other State leaders will be meeting today and tomorrow at the Shanghai Cooperation Summit (SCO) in Uzbekistan where issues of changing international dynamics including Taliban rule, as well as counter-terrorism will be discussed along with other important international issues.

The SCO is seen as China and Russia’s attempts to offer an alternative to the current US-dominated world order. Pakistan is yet to formally recognise the Afghan Taliban government; however, it continues to demand in multilateral platforms that the western world engage with and recognise the Taliban government and lift economic sanctions.

Surinder Singh Oberoi
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