Taliban FM meets Ahmad Massoud’s son, Ismail Khan in Iran

KABUL: The Taliban’s foreign minister said on Monday he held talks in Iran on the weekend with Ahmad Massoud, son of the late legendary Afghan resistance leader Ahmad Shah Massoud, and guaranteed his security if he returned home.

Massoud’s Panjshir Valley forces provided the last resistance in September to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, weeks after government troops capitulated.

In a video posted by state media on Twitter, Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said he also met Ismail Khan, a Herat province warlord who surrendered to the Taliban and left the country.

The Taliban had announced Muttaqi’s departure to Tehran for talks with Iranian officials but made no mention of any plans to meet exiled leaders.

“We met commander Ismail Khan and Ahmad Massoud, and other Afghans in Iran, and assured them that anyone can come to Afghanistan and live without any concerns,” Muttaqi said in the video.

“It’s home to all, and we do not create insecurity or other problems for anyone. Everyone can come freely and live.”

The Panjshir Valley is famed for being the site of resistance to Soviet forces in the 1980s and the Taliban in the late 1990s, during their first stint in power.

Its most revered figure is Ahmad Shah Massoud, known as the “Lion of Panjshir”, who was assassinated in 2001 by Al Qaeda two days before the 9/11 attacks.

His son has since picked up the mantle, and there have been reports of him organising a resistance with other exiled Afghan leaders.

The Massoud-led National Resistance Front has repeatedly denounced the Taliban — calling it an “illegitimate government” — but does not appear to have made any physical attacks.


Islamabad High Court orders capital authority to seal Monal Restaurant today

The Islamabad High Court (IHC) on Tuesday ordered Islamabad Capital Territory Chief Commissioner Amer Ali Ahmed to seal off Monal Restaurant today.

IHC Chief Justice Athar Minallah issued the order while hearing a case related to encroachments in Margalla Hills National Park.

“This court will protect the wider public interest,” the judge said.

The climate change secretary, who was present during the hearing, called for Islamabad’s master plan to be made public.

Justice Minallah said all rules applied to the three wings of the armed forces and asked whether they were being implemented. He questioned whether the Pakistan Air Force had gotten approval from the Capital Development Authority (CDA) for the constructions it had carried out.

“It is possible that they might have some security concerns,” he remarked.

The judge said the concerns of the defense secretary should also be heard and the law should be strictly implemented. “Seal Monal if its lease has ended,” Justice Minallah added.

Following the judge’s directives, CDA officials went to the restaurant to seal it.

The Environment Protection Agency was directed to submit a report on the damages caused by construction on the national park.

The IHC also ordered the CDA to take over the Margalla Greens Golf Club today.

“The defense secretary should inquire about the encroachments of the navy golf course [and] take action against those responsible,” Justice Minallah said.

The court also declared illegal the Military Farms directorate’s claim over 8,000 acres of land, ordering that they should be considered part of the national park.

On November 9, the IHC had blamed several authorities for being complacent about the destruction of Margalla Hills National Park and the wildlife sanctuary. The court had also ordered a survey to be carried out on the damage and a report to be submitted.

Earlier that same month, the court had also asked the attorney general for Pakistan to explain if Messers Remount, the veterinary and farms directorate of the General Headquarters (GHQ), could legally own or manage state land within the protected area of the national park.