Islamabad: Tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan have stirred up after a Pakistani cleric, who had called off a joint conference of religious scholars from both the countries, commented about suicide attacks in Afghanistan.
Days after the Pakistani ulema boycott, Pakistan Ulema Council chief Allama Tahir Ashrafi during an interview to Tolo, an Afghan private television channel said that
The channel quoted Tahir Ashrafi saying that suicide attacks are ‘unacceptable in Pakistan, but legitimate in Afghanistan as it is occupied by the United States, like Kashmir by India and Palestine by Israel’.
The remarks sparked widespread condemnation in Afghanistan, including by President Hamid Karzai himself, the Express Tribune reports.
According to the report, Ashrafi accused the Afghan TV channel of being ‘dishonest’ and claimed most of the interview was not aired. His remarks, however, had already created mistrust among Afghans.
Karzai said Ashrafi was officially proposed by Pakistan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, but instead of preparing for the conference, he made such statements.
Karzai at a press conference this month said that Afghans concluded from this that practical steps are not being taken towards the war on terror.
Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen also joined Karzai to condemn Ashrafi’s remarks.
He said that remarks by the chairman of the Pakistani council of religious scholars have offended them.
The statement that suicide attacks are permissible leads us to the conclusion they have shed light on realities which we knew already.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office vaguely responded to Karzai’s criticism and said that “Pakistan and the ulema of this country have repeatedly condemned suicide attacks and consider them repugnant to the teachings of our glorious religion.”
The Foreign Office spokesperson also distanced Pakistan from Ashrafi’s remarks, but noted that “Maulana Ashrafi had denied making any such statement,” the report added.