A number of Afghan legislators on Wednesday condemned the recent remarks made by controversial Pakistani cleric Maulana Fazlurrahman in which he called for war to continue in Afghanistan until all foreign troops withdraw from the country.
The firebrand cleric has long been associated with the Taliban, but his remarks last week have received significant attention because they were made just as President Ashraf Ghani arrived in Pakistan to meet with military and intelligence officials about reconciliation talks with the Taliban. Fazlurrahman was a member if the Pakistani delegation in the meetings with the Afghan president.
"We believe that the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan is not permissible and defensive efforts will continue against it, we demand the internal security of Afghanistan," Fazlurrahman told reporters just a couple hours after sitting down with Ghani.
The MPs on Wednesday called for the Afghan Council of Religious Scholars to rebuke the Pakistani cleric's stance, and criticized the national unity government for remaining silent in the wake of the remarks.
Others took aim at Pakistan, which many in Parliament and in the Afghan intelligence services have claimed offers covert support for the Taliban, al-Qaeda and other militant groups in the region. Many of the MPs remember the 1990s when the Pakistani military did not try to hide it's support for the Taliban in Afghanistan.
"There are brothels in Pakistan that pay taxes to the Pakistani government, the British laws still dominate that country, and foreign bases also exist in Pakistan; all infidelities exist there so how does this cleric dare justify war in Afghanistan," Laghman MP Naqibullah said.
The government in Kabul and its NATO allies, many of which provide significant financial aid to Pakistan, have asked Islamabad repeatedly to crack down on militants and help get them to the negotiating table. But the rhetoric used by Pakistani officials, often supportive and peace-minded, has rarely been backed up by action.
"This indicates clear interference in Afghanistan and in contradiction to international charters," Afghan Parliament Speaker Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi said in response to the cleric's comments. "The people of Afghanistan are doubtful about Pakistan's independence and how he dares to come and teach us about Jihad."
This wasn't the first time that a Pakistani cleric tried to justify war in Afghanistan. Previously the head of the Pakistani Ulema Council had also tried to legitimize war in Afghanistan and declared it Jihad against foreign invaders.