ISLAMABAD: Two former members of the Afghan Taliban political team have dismissed reports as false that the Afghan Interior Minister Sirajuddin Haqqani travelled to Qatar for negotiations.
A section of Pakistani media has reported that Sirajuddin Haqqani used a Pakistani passport to travel abroad, particularly to Qatar for negotiations, with the United States for the signing of the Doha Agreement in 2020.
Pakistan’s top Investigative journalist Umar Cheema, who has several awards for his work, cited an unknown Peshawar-based journalist who, Mr Cheema said, happened to be on the same flight to Doha as Haqqani.
“At the immigration counter there, Haqqani showed his Pakistani passport as a proof of travel document. This left the journalist puzzled over how Haqqani had managed to get a Pakistani passport,” according to Pakistan’s seasoned journalist, who has filed several very important investigative stories
A former member of the Taliban negotiation team did not confirm the report.
“There is no truth in the report. He had not travelled to Qatar,” Muhammad Zahid Ahmadzai told The Pakistan Daily on Thursday.
Suhail Shaheen, who serves as the head of the Taliban political office in Doha, also rejected the report.
“This is a complete lie and I reject it,” Shaheen told The Pakistan Daily when he was asked about the report.
He said Anas Haqqani, the younger brother of Sirajuddin Haqqani, joined the political team after he was freed from the US-controlled Bagram prison.
After the 2021 Aug takeover, the Afghan interim government had appointed Shaheen as its representative for the United Nations. The ousted government of Ashraf Ghani still holds the UN seat.
Anas was freed along with his uncle Mali Khan and another Taliban official Hafiz Rashid Omari in Nov 2019 in exchange for two professors of the American University of Afghanistan Kevin King from the US and Timothy Weeks from Australia.
King and Weeks were kidnapped in August 2016 in Kabul. Weeks had converted to Islam and now lives in Afghanistan.
Siarjuddin Haqqani was one of the most wanted Taliban leaders during the 20-year armed resistance against the U.S. and its NATO allies.
In March 2008, the US State Department designated Sirajuddin Haqqani a ‘terrorist’ and a year later issued a $5 million bounty for information leading to his capture.
In 2014 the U.S. Department of State’s Rewards for Justice program increased its previous reward offer of up to $5 million for information on Sirajuddin Haqqani, to up to $10 million.
Cheema quoted unnamed interior ministry officials as saying that Sirajuddin Haqqani was among thousands of Afghan citizens who had Pakistani passports until recently. He wrote that these passports were issued from different cities of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Balochistan and Sindh.
Sirajuddin Haqqani, known as ‘Khalifa’ among the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban, is one of the influential Taliban leaders in the current Taliban’s Islamic Emirate.
He is the son of Jalaluddin Haqqani, a famous Mujahideen leader, who fought against the erstwhile Soviet Union.