KABUL: Exploring all avenues to restore peace in Afghanistan, President Ashraf Ghani talked to the godfather of Taliban, Maulana Samiul Haq, by phone and discussed ways that could help the Afghan-lead reconciliation process.
Afghan Ambassador to Islamabad, Hazrat Umar Zakhilwal, called on Samiul Haq, who is the chief of his own political party Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam (JUI-S), in Nowshera. The Pakistani cleric is also in charge of Darul Uloom Haqqania, a religious school, in Akora Khattak area of Nowshera district. The seminary has graduated scores of top Taliban and Haqqani leaders.
The telephonic conversation between President Ashraf Ghani and Samiul Haq took place in presence of the Afghan ambassador to Pakistan.
In the telephonic conversation which lasted about half hour, they conferred on different ways that could help the Afghan-led reconciliation process, reported Dawn, a Pakistani newspaper.
According to Dawn, President Ghani described Samiul Haq not just a mentor to the Afghan insurgents but a “respectable figure for the entire Afghan nation, which looked up to the latter for restoration of peace” in Afghanistan.
Chief of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam emphasized on the need of stability and peace in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. He said the Afghan government “needed to play an active role in achieving the objective.”
Samiul Haq further said that Afghan government and people should ask the US-backed foreign forces in Afghanistan to leave the country. The Pakistani cleric for long has supported the Taliban and stressed on withdrawal of coalition forces from Afghanistan. In the conversation with President Ghani, he said the withdrawal of foreign troops would help to protect sacrifices of Afghan people from going to waste. However, the report did not elaborate that whether he was referring to civilian causalities inflicted by the militants or causalities suffered by the Taliban or both.
The godfather of the Taliban said that the coalition forces in the country do not want to see Afghanistan and Pakistan stable. Samiul Haq also suggested the measures that could help in reducing trust deficit between the Afghan government and Taliban.
In the meeting with Samiul Haq, the Afghan envoy to Pakistan said the Taliban leaders should come forward to engage in direct talks with the government. Responding to Zakhilwal, the cleric stressed on the need of dialogue between Kabul and Islamabad to resolve their differences.
Sources told Dawn that Samiul Haq also expressed “concern over the growing influence of India” in Afghanistan.
This was Zakhilwal’s second visit to Darul Uloom Haqqania to meet Samiul Haq and seek his support in convincing the insurgent group to renounce violence and become part of the Afghan reconciliation process.