ISLAMABAD: Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman’s remarks in defence of the Taliban resistance against foreign troops in Afghanistan have ignited an angry reaction in the war-torn country.
“We do not justify the presence of foreign forces in Afghanistan but we do justify the resistance against them,” Fazl, who met Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani in Islamabad on Friday, told reporters from the neighbouring country following the meeting. An audio recording of his comments is available with The Express Tribune.
Reacting angrily to Fazl’s views on the matter, some Afghan clerics and lawmakers dismissed his statement as ‘unnecessary and ineffective’. They said the JUI-F chief voiced the remarks to ‘protect himself from terrorist attacks’.
Fazl has escaped unhurt from attempts on his life thrice – most recently when a suicide bomber attacked a JUI-F convention in Quetta and killed several in the process.
“Maulana Fazlur Rehman has offered irrational remarks, which will not benefit him,” Shafiullah Nuristani, a member of the Afghan Ulema Council, told the US-funded Azadi Radio’s Pashto service.
Religious scholar Malawi Abdul Rahman Rahmani said Fazl’s statement went “against Sharia, as nobody can justify insurgency.”
“If civilians are killed, the JUI-F chief will be held responsible,” Rahmani was quoted by The Afghanistan Times newspaper as saying. He termed Fazl’s statement ‘politically motivated’ and a bid to create instability and conflict in Afghanistan.
Salih Muhammad Salih, a member of the Internal Security Committee of the lower house of the Afghan parliament, termed the JUI-F leader’s statement “clear interference in the internal affairs of Afghanistan.”
When contacted, JUI-F spokesman Jan Muhammad Achakzai said, “Afghan critics are focusing only on his [Fazl’s] remarks about foreign troops and ignoring his support for the peace process.”
“We will support all peace efforts in Afghanistan and this is our first priority. There is unanimity in Pakistan about peace in Afghanistan. We will not support war in Afghanistan,” the JUI-F Chief had said when he gave his remarks in defence of the Taliban.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 17th, 2014.