Kabul refuses to hand over IS regional chief to Islamabad

Afghan foreign ministry says there’s no extradition treaty between the two countries


Khalid Mehmood April 11, 2020
The Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS) released this image of Abdullah Orakzai, also known as Aslam Farooqi. PHOTO: COURTESY HRW

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan on Saturday turned down Pakistan’s request to hand over Aslam Farooqi, the Islamic State regional chief who according to Afghan authorities was captured in connection with a recent bombing at a Sikh gurdwara and several other terrorist attacks.

Islamabad had requested his custody for further investigation as the leader of leader of the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), an affiliate of the Islamic State, was involved in anti-Pakistan activities in Afghanistan.

Turning down the request, the Afghan foreign ministry said as Farooqi was involved in the killing of hundreds of Afghans, he should be tried under the law of the country.

It further noted that Afghanistan and Pakistan had no extradition treaty and Kabul was under no obligation to hand over the IS-Khorasan chief.

However, the Afghan foreign ministry added that Islamabad and Kabul could work together to curb terrorism in the region.

On April 4, Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), announced that they had arrested Farooqi, whose real name is Abdullah Orakzai, in Kandahar province.

On Thursday, Pakistan had formally asked the neighbouring country to hand over the militant.

Atif Mashal, Afghanistan's ambassador to Pakistan, was summoned to the Pakistani foreign ministry to convey the request.

“The ambassador of Afghanistan to Pakistan was called to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and conveyed Pakistan’s views about the arrest of IS-Khorasan leader, Aslam Farooqi, by the Afghan authorities,” read a statement issued by the Foreign Office.

It was emphasised that Pakistan had been expressing its concerns over the activities of the group, which were clearly detrimental to Pakistan.

The statement underscored that as Farooqi was involved in anti-Pakistan activities in Afghanistan, he should be handed over to Pakistan for further investigation and also suggested that the two sides should coordinate actions against the menace of terrorism, including through established mechanisms.

The group took the responsibility of a recent attack targeting a Sikh gurdwara in Kabul, leaving scores dead.

The group has also been involved in several terrorist attacks in Pakistan. Islamabad has long suspected that the group enjoyed tacit support of the Afghan intelligence agency. It also accused the group of being the proxy of Indian intelligence service RAW.

It was not clear under what circumstances Farooqi was arrested, though the group claimed he himself surrendered to the Afghan authorities.

There were reports that he might have handed himself over to the Afghan authorities in order to avoid being targeted by the Afghan Taliban, who agreed to eliminate all such groups using the Afghan soil against others.

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