Pakistani cleric Fazal Rehman to discuss TTP issue during Kabul visit

Maulana Fazlur Rehman, chief of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, has said he will address the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) issue as a key part of his agenda for his Kabul visit which is happening on Sunday.

The trip, at the Taliban’s invitation, marks his first visit to the country since the Taliban’s 2021 takeover.

Rehman, who last traveled to Afghanistan in 2013 to meet then-president Hamid Karzai, is scheduled to meet Taliban leaders in Afghanistan. This visit follows an invitation extended last month by the Taliban.

During a press briefing at his Islamabad residence on Saturday, Rehman revealed plans to meet with Taliban supreme leader Haibatullah Akhundzada in Kandahar. When asked about addressing the TTP issue with the Afghan leadership, Rehman acknowledged the possibility, expressing his intention to use the visit to foster goodwill between the two nations.

Responding to inquiries about representing the Pakistani government, the JUI-F chief clarified that while the visit was organized by his party, he had consulted with the Foreign Office and relevant government officials. “We will consider the interests of both Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he said.

Rehman also mentioned a briefing by the Foreign Office on January 3, which outlined Pakistan’s stance and expectations. “I realize the significance officials are placing on my visit. The government has been in communication with me,” he added.

When questioned about conveying a message from the Pakistani government to the Taliban, Rehman stated his intent to leverage his contacts with Taliban leaders for mutual benefit.