Pro-Taliban Pakistani leader to visit Afghanistan

Islamabad, Oct 6 (IANS) A pro-Taliban Pakistani political leader, Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, will visit Afghanistan on the invitation of President Hamid Karzai, a spokesperson for the leader said Saturday.

Fazal-ur-Rehman, chief of Jamiat ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), will lead a five-member delegation, Xinhua reported citing JUI-F spokesperson Jan Assakzai.

It would be the first visit of a pro-Taliban Pakistani religious leader to Kabul on official invitation.

Karzai had invited the Pakistani leader in his efforts to seek his help to encourage the Afghan Taliban to join intra-Afghan dialogue.

The Taliban have so far refused to hold talks with the Karzai administration, calling the government in Kabul as puppet of the US.

Fazal-ur-Rehman enjoys deep influence among the Afghan Taliban and had also visited Qatar earlier this year where he had reportedly met some Taliban negotiators.

The JUI-F leader will leave next week for Kabul and stay there for three days, the spokesperson said. The delegation will call on Karzai and the chief of government-backed High Peace Council, Salahuddin Rabbani.

"We will discuss options with President Hamid Karzai as to how Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman could play role in the reconciliation process in Afghanistan," the JUI-F spokesperson said.

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