South Asia

Rare Taliban praise for Pakistan's Maulana Abdul Ghani

Taliban fighter (file photo)
Image caption The Taliban held the dead maulana in high regard

The Taliban in Afghanistan have issued an unprecedented condolence statement on the death of a top right-wing Pakistani politician.

Maulana Abdul Ghani died in a car crash on 26 October in the southern Pakistani province of Balochistan.

It is the first time that the Taliban have publicly admitted receiving help from members of Pakistan's ruling establishment.

Maulana Ghani's JUI-F political party has close links to Pakistan's military.

It was part of the governing coalition until earlier this year.

Pakistan's leadership has always denied any links to the Taliban.

But a Taliban spokesman told the BBC in a statement that Maulana Ghani - a deputy leader of the JUI-F - was a "martyr for the cause of jihad" - and it would be difficult to replace him.

The former parliamentarian was laid to rest on Wednesday in his native town of Chaman in Balochistan.

Eyewitnesses told the BBC the Taliban's top leadership was in attendance - along with hundreds of local citizens and Taliban foot soldiers.

Later - without giving details - a Taliban spokesman said that Maulana Ghani had shown what he called great courage in supporting the movement after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

He added that the maulana's services and commitment for the cause of jihad would never be forgotten.

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