Afghanistan rejects Pakistan’s demand to hand over ISKP leader Aslam Farooqi
The Afghanistan government has rejected Pakistan’s demand for handing over Islamic State of Khorsan Province (ISKP) leader Aslam Farooqi, saying he will be tried under Afghan laws for crimes committed in the country.
Pakistan had on Thursday demanded the handing over of Farooqi, a Pakistani national with long-standing ties to the Lashkar-e-Taiba and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Farooqi was captured with 19 other members of ISKP during an operation by Afghan troops on April 5.
The Afghan foreign ministry said in a statement in Dari issued on Friday: “Aslam Farooqi is the leader of the ISIS group who has committed many crimes in Afghanistan. He is accused of leading a series of operations that have resulted in the deaths of many civilian Afghans and soldiers. He will be treated according to the laws of Afghanistan.”
The statement said another reason for treating Farooqi under Afghan laws is that “there is no agreement between Pakistan and Afghanistan on the extradition of criminals”.
“Afghanistan does not discriminate against terrorists [and] unlawful behaviour and is committed to all anti-terrorism commitments,” the statement added.
The foreign ministry statement suggested there could be exchanges of information under the Afghanistan-Pakistan Action Plan for Peace and Solidarity (APAPPS), “which will help fight terrorism”.
Several of the terrorists captured with Farooqi are Pakistani nationals, Afghanistan’s spy agency or National Directorate of Security (NDS) has said.
Farooqi has been linked to the March 25 attack on a Sikh place of worship in Kabul that killed more than 25 people, including an Indian national. Indian security officials have said the ISKP targeted the Sikhs after being unable to attack the heavily fortified Indian mission in Kabul.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office had demanded that Farooqi be handed over as he “was involved in anti-Pakistan activities in Afghanistan”.
Indian and Afghan security officials have been sceptical about Pakistan’s demand. They said it appeared the Pakistani side was more worried about what Farooqi could divulge about his long-standing links to the Pakistani military establishment during his interrogation.
The ISKP has claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks on Afghanistan’s minorities such as Hazara Shias and Sikhs. However, it has been put on the backfoot after coordinated operations by Afghan forces in Nangarhar province since November led to the surrender of hundreds of the group’s fighters and sympathisers.