Pakistan asks Afghanistan to hand over captured ISKP leader Aslam Farooqi
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. IUpdated: Apr 09, 2020, 21:39 IST
Pakistan on Thursday demanded Afghanistan should hand over the Pakistani-origin chief of the Islamic State of Khorsan Province (ISKP), who was captured by Afghan forces during an operation last week.
Aslam Farooqi, who was earlier linked to the terrorist groups Lashkar-e-Taiba and Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, was captured along with 19 other members of ISKP on April 5. Several of the other captured terrorists are Pakistani nationals, Afghanistan’s spy agency or National Directorate of Security (NDS) 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 also said the ISKP targeted the Sikhs after being unable to attack the heavily fortified Indian mission in Kabul.
On Thursday, Pakistan’s Foreign Office called in Afghan ambassador Atif Mashal and informed him of Islamabad’s views regarding the arrest of ISKP leader Aslam Farooqi by Afghan authorities.
“It was underscored to the ambassador that since Aslam Farooqi was involved in anti-Pakistan activities in Afghanistan, he should be handed over to Pakistan for further investigations,” said a statement from the Foreign Office.
The statement added, “It was emphasised that Pakistan had been expressing its concerns over the activities of this group, which were clearly detrimental to Pakistan. Pakistan’s position in this regard was being regularly shared with the Government of Afghanistan and others concerned.”
Pakistan also called for the two sides to “coordinate actions against the menace of terrorism, including through established mechanisms”.
Security officials in New Delhi were sceptical about Pakistan’s demand. One official, who declined to be named, said: “It seems the Pakistanis are more worried about what Aslam Farooqi could divulge about his long-standing links to the Pakistani military establishment.”
The ISKP has claimed responsibility for a string of deadly attacks on Afghanistan’s minorities such as the Hazara Shias and Sikhs. However, it has been put on the backfoot after coordinated operations by Afghan forces since November in Nangarhar led to the surrender of hundreds of the group’s fighters and sympathisers.
When ISKP claimed the March 25 attack on the Sikhs in Kabul, it said an Indian national from Kerala – Muhsin Trikaripur alias Abu Khalid al-Hindi – was among the attackers. All the terrorists involved in the attack were killed.
Two other top ISKP leaders, both Pakistani nationals, were captured along with Farooqi. Also known as Mawlavi Abdullah, Farooqi became head of the ISKP last year.