The Afghan embassy in Islamabad has denied reports that Afghan officials had met with a key Taliban commander imprisoned in Pakistan to discuss peace negotiations.
Afghan Ambassador Omar Daudzai rejected claims by his country’s national security adviser Rangeen Spanta and Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik that Afghan officials met with Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in a Pakistani jail.
“I categorically reject claims about meeting with Mullah Baradar. Neither a delegation of the Afghan government nor members of the Afghan embassy in Islamabad met with him,” Daudzai told The Express Tribune in an interview.
Earlier, Rangeen Spanta told Reuters that an Afghan delegation had met Mullah Baradar at a Pakistani detention centre two months ago. Rehman Malik also confirmed that the Afghan team had been given access to Baradar at the appropriate level, but he later denied a meeting.
“The news reports about a meeting between Afghan officials and Mullah Baradar are baseless and incorrect,” said the interior ministry in a short statement issued late Monday.
A source close to Mullah Baradar’s family told AFP that Afghan delegates were not given access to Baradar in jail but family members had passed him a message from the Afghan government on reconciliation.
On Monday, Muhammad Ismail Qasimyar, a member of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, also said Afghan government officials and members of the Afghan embassy in Pakistan held secret talks with him in prison two months ago.
Daudzai went on to add that Pakistan had granted consular access to Afghan prisoners in its jails but never allowed Afghan officials to meet any Taliban prisoner. However, he said the Afghan government had demanded Mullah Baradar’s release and handover to Afghan authorities, among other Afghan prisoners in Pakistani jails.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.