Afghanistan has reportedly voiced criticism towards neighboring Pakistan for allowing a delegation from the Taliban “terrorist organization” to visit Islamabad.
“The Taliban’s trip to Pakistan is highly questionable. A terrorist group has no right to visit any country,” Shah Huseen Murtazawe, a spokesman for Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, told reporters in Kabul on Thursday, Voice of America (VOA) reports.
“In fact, Afghans have been forced to leave their country because of the violence and crimes (the) Taliban inflicted on them,” added the spokesman, alluding to the estimated 3 million Afghans living in Pakistan as refugees or economic migrants.
A day prior to the Afghan government expressing its opposition to the visit, Mohammad Naeem, a spokesman from the Qatar-based Taliban political office, confirmed to VOA that a three-member delegation had traveled to speak to Pakistani officials.
The delegation reportedly arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday.
Taliban jihadists hope the visit from Qatar to Islamabad will have “fruitful results” and be “in the interest of both countries,” said Naeem, adding that jihadist group would talk to Pakistani officials about “close relations, long border and commercial transactions” between the two neighboring countries.
VOA reports that Murtazawe urged Islamabad to deal with Kabul on the issues highlighted by the Taliban spokesman.
Murtazawe also emphasized that Pakistan should not discuss issues facing both countries with a “terrorist group,” adding that Afghanistan opposes such a move.
Pakistani officials have reportedly failed to confirm the delegation’s visit.
“I do not have any information on any such visit,” Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, told reporters on Wednesday, referring the presence of the Taliban delegation in Islamabad.
However, unnamed diplomatic sources told VOA that the delegation was expected to engage in “exploratory discussions” with Pakistani officials as part of Islamabad’s efforts to facilitate peace negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government.
The Taliban spokesman said the Afghan peace talks were not on the delegation’s agenda.
“Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has been under growing pressure at home to abandon his policy of seeking peace talks with the Taliban since the April 19 Taliban bomb-and-gun attack in Kabul that killed nearly 70 people and wounded around 350 others,” notes VOA.
“The pressure prompted Ghani to condemn Taliban insurgents as terrorists responsible for murdering innocent Afghans,” it adds. “The president used to refer to the insurgency as political opposition in his bid to encourage the Taliban to come to the negotiating table for a peaceful settlement of the Afghan conflict.”
Nevertheless, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Chaudhry dismissed the claims, saying “Pakistan does not make any distinction between any terrorists… We will continue our endeavor in fighting terrorism and rooting it out of our country.”
VOA quoted Chaudhry as saying “Islamabad will continue its efforts to arrange peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.”
Pakistan has been working with the U.S., China, and Afghanistan to bring the Taliban to the negotiation table.
U.S. and Afghan officials have accused Pakistan of serving as a safe haven for the Taliban and other terrorist groups.
“In a further hardening of Kabul’s stance with regard to the insurgency, presidential spokesman Murtazawe also said President Ghani was expected Thursday to sign a list of ‘terrorists’ sentenced to death so they could be executed and a strong message would be sent to those waging war against the state,” reports VOA.