| 26 May 2024, Sunday |

Iran Slams ‘Foreign Intervention’ in Afghanistan Amid Concerns Over Pakistan-Taliban Cooperation

Both the Taliban and Pakistan have denied allegations that Pakistani drones and ground personnel have been providing military assistance to the Islamist group in the Panjshir Province. Pakistan’s military spokesman Major General Babar Iftikhar has dismissed these claims as “completely false and irrational propaganda”.

Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian has urged the participants of a Pakistan-sponsored meeting on Afghanistan to refrain from using “military force”, against the backdrop of reports that Islamabad has been providing air and ground support to the Taliban against the National Resistance Front (NRF) forces in the Panjshir Province.

The virtual meeting about Afghanistan was also attended by the foreign ministers of China (Wang Yi), Uzbekistan (Abdulaziz Kamilov), Turkmenistan (Rashid Meredov) and Tajikistan (Sirojiddin Muhriddin).

According to Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesman at Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Amir-Abdollahian also expressed concern about the prospects of “foreign intervention” in Afghanistan, as he railed against the 20-year US occupation of the south Asian nation.

Several Afghan officials have reportedly claimed that NRF positions in Panjshir, the north-western province which the Taliban has yet fully to capture, came under attack from Pakistani drones this week. The Taliban fighters have launched a massive offensive to take over the opposition stronghold, but the NRF has claimed that it has been able to repel the Islamist militant group and it still controls “strategic positions” in the Panjshir Valley.

NRF leader Ahmad Massoud also decried the use of “foreign mercenaries” by the Taliban in Panjshir in a statement released on 6 September, a day after two of the movement’s top leaders were killed during fighting.

At the time, Tehran said it would investigate claims of “foreign intervention”.

“Everyone should know that the history of Afghanistan has proved that foreign meddling will result in nothing but failure,” Khatibzadeh said on 6 September.

The allegations that Pakistan is providing military support to the Taliban surfaced only days after Lieutenant-General Faiz Hameed, the chief of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, made his first public visit to Afghanistan after Kabul was taken over by the Taliban on 15 August.

Iran Calls for an ‘Inclusive’ Gov’t

At Wednesday’s meeting, Iran’s top diplomat also called for forming an “inclusive government reflecting diversity and the will of the Afghan people” and backed an “intra-Afghan dialogue”.

The meeting was organized barely a day after the Taliban announced its 33-member all-male, interim cabinet in Afghanistan, which many observers across the world say includes Islamist hardliners in key positions.

The new cabinet has at least six ministers sanctioned by the United Nations for their alleged terrorist ties. The newly appointed Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani heads the US-designated Foreign Terrorist Organisation (FTO) Haqqani Network and has a $10 million bounty on his head.

Meanwhile, Pakistan Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi called for “discarding old lenses, developing new insights” and proceeding with a pragmatic approach in dealing with the new developments in Afghanistan, while addressing the meeting.

  • Sputnik