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Afghanistan Outraged About Taliban's Pakistan Visit

In this photo released by Afghanistan's Presidential Palace, President Ashraf Ghani, center, stands at attention for the national anthem during a joint meeting of the National Assembly in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 25, 2016.

Afghanistan has criticized Pakistan for allowing a Taliban delegation to visit the neighboring country, saying “a terrorist organization” should not have been been allowed to undertake such activities.

The objection came a day after the Islamist insurgency confirmed a three-member Taliban delegation traveled to Islamabad from its Qatar-based political office for talks with Pakistani officials on “border-related issues” and “problems” facing Afghan refugees in the country.

While addressing a news conference in Kabul on Thursday, presidential spokesman Shah Huseen Murtazawe,demanded Pakistan deal with the government in Afghanistan on these and other bilateral issues.

“The Taliban’s trip to Pakistan is highly questionable. A terrorist group has no right to visit any country,” Murtazawe said.

He went on to assert that Pakistani authorities cannot discuss with a “terrorist group” issues like border disputes and problems facing Afghan refugees in Pakistan, saying the Afghan government strongly opposes such discussions.

“In fact, Afghans have been forced to leave their country because of the violence and crimes (the) Taliban inflicted on them,” the spokesman said, referring to nearly 3 million Afghans living in the neighboring country as refugees or economic migrants.

In Islamabad

The Taliban delegation arrived in Islamabad earlier this week, but Pakistani officials have neither denied nor confirmed it categorically.

“I do not have any information on any such visit,” Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, said Wednesday when asked about the presence of Taliban negotiators.

Diplomatic sources, however, have confirmed to VOA the Taliban delegation is in Pakistan on a mission to hold “exploratory discussions” with local authorities on possible peace talks with the Afghan government, although the Taliban said resumption of Afghan peace talks was not on the agenda of the meetings in Islamabad.

President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a joint meeting of the National Assembly in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 25, 2016.
President Ashraf Ghani speaks during a joint meeting of the National Assembly in Kabul, Afghanistan, April 25, 2016.

Ghani faces pressure

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.

The pressure prompted Ghani to condemn Taliban insurgents as terrorists responsible for murdering innocent Afghans. 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.

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.

After the Kabul attack, the Afghan government accused Islamabad of not taking action against Taliban and militants linked to the Haqqani network who it says used Pakistani soil for plotting the assault and other insurgent violence in Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Chaudhry, however, dismissed the allegations, saying Pakistan condemns all forms of terrorism and has taken all necessary actions against all groups that were operating on its territory.

“Pakistan does not make any distinction between any terrorists...We will continue our endeavor in fighting terrorism and rooting it out of our country,” Chaudhry said.

He added that Islamabad will continue its efforts to arrange peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.