The Taliban confirmed Monday that the powerful Pakistani intelligence chief, Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed, met with its de facto leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar amid efforts by the insurgent group to establish a government in Afghanistan.
Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lieutenant General Hameed stormed into Kabul on an unannounced visit last week, becoming the only senior foreign official to visit Kabul since the Taliban took the Afghan capital in mid-August.
At a press conference in Kabul on Monday, Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that the ISI chief had met Mullah Baradar during his visit to Kabul, BBC Urdu reported.
The Taliban have assured Islamabad that Afghan territory will not be used against Pakistan.
Pakistani media previously reported that a delegation of senior officials led by Lieutenant General Hameed was in Kabul at the invitation of the Taliban, but the insurgent group said Islamabad had suggested his visit to Kabul.
On Sunday, the Taliban said the top Pakistani spy was in Afghanistan to improve bilateral relations between Kabul and Islamabad.
Ahmadullah Wasiq, deputy head of the Taliban’s Cultural Commission, said Taliban leaders had discussed bilateral relations and the problems facing Afghan passengers on the Torkham and Spin Boldak passes between Afghanistan and Pakistan with Lieutenant General Hameed.
“This Pakistani official has come to solve the problems of Afghan passengers at the border areas, especially in Torkham and Spin Boldak. They wanted (his visit to Kabul) and we accepted,” Wasiq told TOLO News.
Pakistan temporarily closed the Chaman border crossing — the second largest commercial border point with Afghanistan after the trading town of Torkham in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa — on Thursday due to security threats.
Speaking at his press conference, Mujahid noted that the recent delegation to Kabul said the border crossings were closed due to security concerns related to the release of detainees in Afghanistan, and requested controls for those seeking to enter or leave the country.
Citing sources close to Hizb-e-Islami party leader Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the channel said the Pakistani intelligence chief also met with him and discussed the current situation in the country.
In a short video clip that circulated in the media last week, Lieutenant General Hameed was seen trying to respond to questions from a journalist who first asked, “Are you going to meet seniors in the Taliban?”
“No, I’m not clear…” said the ISI chief, looking at Pakistani ambassador to Kabul Mansour Ahmad Khan, standing next to him, to answer the question.
In response to another question, Hameed smiled and said, “Don’t worry, everything will be fine.”
Hameed’s visit to Afghanistan came amid mounting pressure on the Taliban to form an inclusive government acceptable to the international community. The insurgent group struggles to shape broad-based and inclusive governance acceptable to the international community.
It was the first high-level visit by a Pakistani official to Afghanistan since the Taliban took over Kabul on August 15, in a move that surprised their enemies and friends alike.
Since then, the Taliban have been trying to form a government, but so far they have resisted the announcement.
Pakistan has often been accused by the Afghan government of providing military aid to the Taliban, a charge that Islamabad has denied.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NewsMadura staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)