Pakistan’s Foreign Office on Thursday downplayed Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (Fazl) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s peacemaking trip to Kabul as the visit of a “private citizen” that is not sponsored or approved by the Government of Pakistan.
“First, Maulana Fazlur Rahman is a private citizen, who is visiting Afghanistan on a private visit at the invitation of the Afghan authorities. This is not a visit sponsored by the government of Pakistan,” spokesperson Mumtaz Zahra Baloch told a weekly press briefing. “Secondly, before his travel to Afghanistan, he visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs briefed him on our policy towards Afghanistan,” she said, stressing this was “normal practice” for all senior officials or political figures.
Emphasizing that Fazl was not in Afghanistan as an official emissary of the Government of Pakistan, she said the state’s policy on talks with the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had not changed. “We have no dialogue taking place, nor do we intend to have a dialogue with TTP, which is responsible for several terrorist incidents inside Pakistan and is responsible for killing of Pakistani civilians and law-enforcement officials,” she said.
Similarly, she continued, Pakistan’s demands of Afghan authorities were also constant. “Afghan authorities should take action, effective action against terrorist elements inside Afghanistan, including TTP leadership,” she said, adding Kabul should “ensure that the hideouts and sanctuaries inside Afghanistan for these terrorist groups are eliminated and those responsible for terrorist incidents in Pakistan are handed over to Pakistan.”
Earlier this week, the JUIF traveled to Kabul with a nine-member delegation on the invitation of the interim Afghan government and also met Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhundzada in Kandahar. Ahead of his visit, Fazl had said he hoped the visit would revive deteriorating ties between Pakistan and Afghanistan. During his meetings, he validated the Afghan Taliban’s view of the ongoing repatriation of undocumented Afghan migrants damaging people-to-people ties and said he had also urged the government to cease this policy.
Reportedly, the JUIF chief also assured his hosts that the next government would review the matter of talks with the TTP and sought their support in preventing TTP attacks on political campaigns.
Palestine and South Africa
During her briefing, Baloch reiterated that Pakistan supports the application filed by South Africa before the International Court of Justice concerning Israel’s violations of its obligations under the 1951 Genocide Convention in relation to the Palestinian people in Gaza.
“We consider this legal action timely and an important step towards holding Israel to account for its well-documented atrocities unleashed against Palestinian people since Oct. 7, 2023. Pakistan shares the concerns raised in the application by South Africa. Israel’s ongoing military aggression and actions against the Palestinian people constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity and amount to genocidal acts,” she said.
The spokesperson also reiterated Pakistan’s call for an “immediate and unconditional ceasefire,” an end to Israel’s “unabated massacre” of the Palestinian people; and expeditious delivery of humanitarian aid to the Palestinian people.
Indian diplomat’s book
To a question, Baloch derided former High Commissioner of India to Pakistan Ajay Bisaria’s book, Anger Management: The Troubled Diplomatic Relationship between India and Pakistan, as a means to “advance India’s fictitious narratives around the developments of February 2019 and the usual chest thumping that Indian officials have adopted as their default narrative.”
The book has made headlines in recent weeks for alleging that then-prime minister Imran Khan had attempted to initiate a midnight call with Indian P.M. Narendra Modi to prevent further escalation after the Balakot airstrike and had been rejected the request. “As the next Lok Sabha elections draw closer, it is not surprising that a Pakistan bashing, jingoistic and militaristic narrative is now being unleashed in India,” maintained the spokesperson.