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November 22, 2001
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Pakistan orders Taleban embassy closed

Pakistan finally ordered its long-time ally, the Taleban, on Thursday to shut their embassy in Islamabad, the fundamentalist Islamic militia's last diplomatic mission.

Aziz Ahmed Khan, spokesman for the Pakistani foreign ministry, said the decision was taken on Wednesday, but was officially communicated to the Afghans on Thursday morning.

Only Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates had recognised the Taleban government in Afghanistan after the militia took over most of the war-ravaged country in 1996.

The latter two broke off diplomatic ties after the September 11 attacks on the United States. Pakistan, however, continued to maintain ties with the Taleban, claiming that it wanted to leave an avenue for negotiations open.

Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence was instrumental in the rise of the Taleban in the early 1990s and Islamabad remained their strongest ally until September 11, when it was forced to distance itself at the pain of facing America's wrath.

Even before the announcement, however, Taleban staffers had begun shutting down their embassy. "We have stopped issuing visas and ended all our operations," Mufti Yousuf, an embassy official, said.

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