Pakistani cleric in Kandahar for anticipated talks with Taliban leader

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan — Maulana Fazal Rehman, a Pakistani cleric, is currently in Kandahar Province, poised for a potential meeting with Taliban leader Hibatullah Akhundzada, according to sources from the Taliban and the Pakistani embassy in Kabul.

Despite Rehman’s presence in the region, a Taliban spokesperson told Amu TV that no definitive plans for a meeting have been confirmed yet. Rehman, who leads Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam, a religious and political group in Pakistan, had previously announced intentions to meet with Akhundzada during his Afghanistan visit.

Initially expected in Kabul on Tuesday for his return to Pakistan, Rehman’s travel plans have been altered. Sources indicate that he will remain in Kandahar until Wednesday, Jan. 10, as he has yet to secure a meeting with the Taliban leader.

During his stay in Kabul, Rehman engaged in discussions with top Taliban officials, including the group’s chief minister, deputy chief minister, and acting foreign minister.

A knowledgeable source revealed that in these meetings, Rehman communicated a clear message to the Taliban: Jihad is considered unlawful in Pakistan, and he urged the group to collaborate with the Pakistani government against the Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

The Taliban, reiterating their longstanding stance, reportedly assured Rehman that they do not support the TTP and have committed to preventing the use of Afghan soil for activities against Pakistan.

This visit underscores the complex political and security dynamics in the region, highlighting the ongoing efforts to navigate the sensitive relationship between the Taliban-led Afghanistan and neighboring Pakistan.