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JeM chief Azhar Masood’s brother Rauf Azhar calls on Mullah Baradar to pledge allegiance

Taliban’s presidential hopeful Mullah Baradar met Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Azhar

Taliban’s presidential hopeful Mullah Baradar after arriving in Afghanistan met Chinese ambassador to Afghanistan Wang Yu on Thursday. The same day Baradar had another visitor –  Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Azhar.

Rauf Azhar is the younger brother of the dreaded militant Masood Azhar, founder of the JeM.

The JeM commander came to congratulate to the leaders of a fellow Sunni terrorist group for conquering Kabul and pledge allegiance. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, JeM’s operational commander Mufti Abdul Rauf Azhar also met the chief of the Taliban’s military wing and founder of the Taliban, Mullah Omar’s son Mullah Mohammad Yakub.

Also Read: Despite reassurances by Taliban, China fears terror surge in Xinjiang

According to intelligence reports, during his stay in Pakistan after the Taliban's rout, Yakub was trained in JeM military camps. JeM supremo Azhar Masood was a close “friend” of his father Mullah Omar.

Rauf Azhar had planned the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC-814 in1999 to get Masood released from an Indian prison. The hijacking of the plane to Kandahar had taken place during the earlier Taliban regime in Afghanistan. In fact, Rauf had made the hijacking plan with the Taliban.

Azhar Masood and two other militants were then released in Kandahar for the safe return of the plane and its passengers.

Once Masood Azhar was handed over to the hijackers, they fled to Pakistani territory and Later Maulana Azhar Masood formed a terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammad.

Thousands of fighters of the Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-e-Taiba have played a major role in the Taliban's fight to take over Afghanistan. The JeM chief Maulana Azhar Masood was first among the Pakistan based terror organisations to congratulate the Taliban for the ‘spectacular victory”.  

According to ANI, Azhar Masood says that he is very happy over the Taliban's "victory", and the collapsing of the  "US-backed Afghanistan government".

In his write-up titled "Manzil ki Taraf" (towards the destination) on August 16, the JeM founder thanked God for the success of "Mujahideen" in Afghanistan.

Mullah Baradar’s other meeting was with the Chinese envoy Wang Yu. According to the daily, the Chinese envoy and Baradar talked about Chinese help in the reconstruction of Afghanistan. Wang Yu also has been trying to sell the advantages of the Belt Road Initiative (BRI) and to “exploit” Afghan trillion dollar worth reserves of minerals including lithium and copper in the name of reconstruction.

Also Read: India, Iran and Russia go into a huddle to tackle return of the Taliban in Afghanistan

Another issue of major concern to the Chinese was about the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uyghur Muslim rebel group of China. According to a UN report, hundreds of ETIM militants under the leadership of Haji Furqan, fought along with the Taliban.

During his visit to Beijing last month, Baradar was told by the Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi  in clear terms that the Taliban would have to make a clean break with all terrorist organizations including the ETIM.  The Chinese minister also said the Taliban would not provide a safe haven to Uyghur fighters who could destabilize Central Asia or harm Chinese interests in the region or at home.

ETIM also has close ties with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), al-Qaeda and other militant groups who have been fighting along with the Taliban across Afghanistan.

ETIM Chief Haji Furqan in Afghanistan:

Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mohammad Qureshi is likely to be the first foreign leader to visit Kabul after the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. According to sources, Qureshi’s visit is going to happen in a day or two. It's also said that he will be accompanied by the ISI chief on this day-long visit. One of the main agenda of the visit will be the embolden Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who has close relations with the Taliban. After the takeover of Kabul, The Taliban had released all TTP prisoners including dreaded commanders from Afghan prisons and now they have re-grouped in Pakistan.