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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Afghan Taliban dismiss reports of meeting with Fazlur Rehman

Afghan Taliban dismiss reports of meeting with Fazlur Rehman

A file photo of JUI-F leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman speaking to the media in Peshawar. PHOTO: NNI
ISLAMABAD: The Afghan Taliban on Wednesday dismissed media reports stating Jamiat-e-Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) chief Fazlur Rehman met Taliban negotiators in Qatar.
Rehman was reported to be in Qatar to “encourage the negotiators to talk to the Afghan government.”
The group termed the reports incorrect.
“We want to make it categorically clear that the honourable head of the political office of the Islamic Emirate and any other member of the office in Qatar has neither met anyone nor any such meeting had been under consideration,” said the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
The Pashto-language statement, the first formal reaction to the reported Rehman-Taliban contact, was emailed to The Express Tribune.
However, sources close to the Taliban in Qatar, have confirmed to The Express Tribune that Rehman held one round of talks with the Taliban negotiators in Qatar and that more talks are planned.
The JUI-F chief – who was earlier scheduled to return home on Tuesday – has also extended his stay in the Gulf state, the sources said.
Another JUI-F source in Pakistan, had earlier told The Express Tribune, that Rehman had gone to Qatar to meet representatives of the Afghan Taliban to “reduce gap” between the Taliban and the Karzai government.
Taliban has so far refused to hold talks with the Afghan government, which they say is powerless and installed by foreigners.
They quickly rejected a recent call by the Afghanistan-Pakistan-UK summit in London where leaders in a joint statement asked the Taliban to begin intra-Afghan talks.
The JUI-F source said that Rehman had agreed to travel to Qatar and to meet the Taliban negotiators after he was authorised by the Pakistani government. Rehman had told the government he will not meet the Taliban as the JUI-F head but as a state representative.
“The Karzai government was also on board before Rehman’s trip,” the source told The Express Tribune.
According to the source, Rehman had clarified that his efforts will not be equivalent to the Taliban-US talks as that was Taliban’s own move.