The Taliban on Wednesday (September 14) strongly denied Pakistani assertion that terrorist Masood Azhar is in Afghanistan and said that he was in Pakistan itself. Spokesperson of Taliban government Zabihullah Mujahid refuted Pakistani claims which appeared to shake off responsibility of arresting the terror lynchpin.
Pakistani media had previously reported that Pakistan’s foreign ministry had written a letter to Taliban government asking it to arrest Azhar who it claimed was in Afghanistan.
“We have written a one-page letter to the Afghan Foreign Ministry asking them to locate, report and arrest Masood Azhar, as we believe that he is hiding somewhere in Afghanistan,” said an unnamed Pakistani official quoted by Geo TV.
The Taliban strongly denied the claim.
“The leader of the Jaesh-e-Mohammad group is not here in Afghanistan. This is an organization 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,” said Zabihullah Mujahid who was quoted by Afghan news outlet Tolo News.
The Taliban have also warned Pakistan, without naming the country, to refrain from making unsubstantiated allegations.
“We also call on all parties to refrain from such allegations lacking any proof and documentation. Such media allegations can adversely affect bilateral relations,” said Abdul Qahar Balkhi, a spokesman for Taliban’s foreign ministry.
Pakistan has provided and continues to provide safe haven to terrorists and terror organisations responsible for terror attacks in the region. The country is currently trying tp get out of the ‘grey list’ of Financial Action Task Force (FATF), global watchdog keeping eye on money laundering and terror financing.
The letter sent to Afghanistan is being considered to be yet another attempt by Pakistan to project that terrorists aren’t present in the country.