South Asia

Cleric claims at least 30,000 Pakistanis fought with Taliban against U.S.

Fazal-ur-Rehman, the head of Jamiat Ulama-e-Islam has claimed that that 20,000 to 30,000 armed Pakistani fighters had taken part in the Taliban’s “fight against the US” in Afghanistan.

Speaking at a gathering of his supporters in Pakistan on May 3, Rehman claimed that these armed individuals had entered the border while the Pakistani government at the time, early 2010s, announced fencing the border between the two neighboring countries.

He also claimed that these “fighters” have returned to Pakistan through the same borders after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan.

“Bajwa (Pakistan’s former army chief), informed me about the investment of millions of rupees in fencing along the Afghanistan border,” Rehman said. “Then, how did 20,000 to 30,000 armed Pakistani youths participate in the Taliban’s fight against the U.S. in Afghanistan? Where is the fencing now? Now that the Taliban control Afghanistan, all those armed Pakistani youths have returned to Pakistan with increased strength.”

The former government in Afghanistan had repeatedly accused Pakistan of supporting the Taliban by providing safe havens during their insurgency against the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan.

Pakistan has accused the Taliban of harbouring Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan fighters after a recent increase in insurgent attacks in Pakistan. Taliban however has said the issue is an internal matter for the Pakistani government.