'Don’t worry, everything will be OK’: ISI chief during Afghanistan visit
Pakistan ISI chief Lieutenant General Faiz Hameed flew to Kabul on an unannounced visit for what reports said was to discuss government formation in Afghanistan even as the Taliban deferred the announcement for a second time since taking over. Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said on Saturday that the announcement about the new government and cabinet members will be made next week.
As Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) director general Hameed arrived in Kabul to meet the Taliban along with a delegation of senior Pakistani officials, Britain’s Channel 4 News correspondent Lindsey Hilsum posed several questions to him. In a short video tweeted by Channel 4 News, Hameed is seen trying to respond to Hilsum's questions.“Will you be meeting senior people in the Taliban?” she asked him. “No, I’m not clear…” the ISI chief said as he looked towards Pakistan ambassador to Kabul, Mansour Ahmad Khan, standing by his side, to respond to the question.
Hilsum then posed another question. “What do you hope is going to happen now in Afghanistan?" he was asked. “I have just landed…,” Hameed said and once again looked towards Khan who said: “We are working for peace and stability in Afghanistan.” “Don’t worry, everything will be okay,” Hameed said as others accompanying him laughed.
Pakistan Observer newspaper reported that the ISI chief was expected to meet the Taliban leaders and commanders. “Issues relating to Pak-Afghan security, economy, and other matters will be taken up with the Taliban leadership,” the report said citing people familiar with the matter.
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Pakistan journalist Hamza Azhar Salam said that Hameed visited Afghanistan at the invitation of the Taliban to discuss the future of the two countries. "DG ISI, Lt Gen Faiz Hameed has arrived in #Kabul leading a delegation of Pakistani officials on the invitation of the Taliban to discuss the future of #Pakistan and #Afghanistan ties under the new Taliban government," Salam tweeted.
A senior official in Pakistan said earlier in the week that Hameed, who heads the powerful Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, could help the Taliban reorganise the Afghan military.
One of Afghanistan’s politicians Mariam Solaimankhil tweeted on Saturday that the ISI chief was to ensure that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar does not lead the new Afghanistan government. "From what I am hearing DG of ISI has come into Kabul to make sure Baradar doesn't lead this government and Haqqani does," Solaimankhil, a member of Afghanistan's parliament representing the Kuchis, wrote on Twitter.
She also said the Taliban factions and co-founder Mullah Baradar do not agree on several issues. "There are a lot of disagreements amongst the Taliban factions and Baradar has called all his men off of attacking Panjshir,” tweeted Solaimankhil.
Pakistan and ISI have been accused of supporting the Taliban in taking over Afghanistan. The US has said Pakistan and the ISI backed the Taliban in the group's two-decade fight against the government in Kabul, although Islamabad has denied the charges.
According to the Express Tribune, Hameed will also meet Pakistan's envoy in Kabul to discuss the matter of repatriation and transit through Pakistan of foreign nationals and Afghans fleeing Taliban rule.
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"The issue of pending requests from countries and international organisations for the repatriation/transit through Pakistan and the need to determine the mechanism through which Pakistan could allow these, in coordination with the ground authorities in Afghanistan will be discussed during the meeting with the Taliban officials,” it reported.
Hameed's visit to Kabul came as army chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with British foreign secretary Dominic Raab on Saturday and said that Pakistan will assist in the formation of an inclusive administration in Afghanistan.