Cleric once again acknowledges Pakistani nationals’ participation in Afghanistan’s war

Fazl ur Rehman, leader of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam in Pakistan, reaffirmed that 40,000 Pakistani citizens have participated in the Afghan conflict over the past two decades of NATO’s presence.

Speaking to his supporters, the prominent cleric expressed concerns about the return of these war veterans to Pakistan.

This statement aligns with ongoing reports suggesting possible military operations in the border areas between Pakistan and Afghanistan, areas Rehman describes as harboring “terrorists.”

The remarks follow a recent visit by the U.S. Central Command’s commander to the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region adjacent to Afghanistan. Rehman noted that the Pakistani combatants have returned to Pakistan through border fences, despite governmental claims that barbed wire installations were meant to curb militant movement. “Forty thousand Pakistanis went to war in Afghanistan and have now returned, having destroyed the fence,” he stated.

Last week, Rehman made a similar disclosure about the involvement of Pakistanis in the two-decade-long conflict.

Meanwhile, analysts have highlighted Pakistan’s significant role in supporting the Taliban against U.S.-led NATO troops and Afghan forces. Mohammad Radmanish, a military expert, stated, “Terrorist groups have benefited from Pakistan’s support from the long past to today, and these groups remain active in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

The Taliban has accused Pakistan of supporting Daesh Khorasan, alleging that Daesh fighters have entered Afghanistan from Pakistan. Islamabad, conversely, accuses the Taliban of backing the Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan, which has claimed attacks on Pakistani forces—claims the Taliban denies.

As the Taliban’s control in Afghanistan continues, the region has seen a spike in suicide attacks and security incidents, particularly in Pakistan’s tribal areas, often attributed to the Pakistani Taliban.