Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, chief of the right-wing Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, has been accused of endorsing Taliban activity in Afghanistan.
“Ban the killer's entry in Afghanistan!” shouted the protesters at the Kabul Airport today. “Death to the supporter of Taliban!" and “Death to the enemy of the Afghans!” were also among the other slogans chanted by the protesters.
The delegation of Pakistani politicians is on an official two-day visit intended to build relations and cooperation between the two countries.
For years, relations between the neighbors have been strained, with each holding the other responsible for the Taliban militancy that persists in both countries and especially along their shared border.
Visiting alongside Fazal-ur-Rehman are three of the most liberal Pakistani politicians, Asfandyar Wali Khan, chief the nationalist Awami National Party; Mahmood Khan Achakzai, a Pashtun nationalist heading the Pashtunkwa Mili Awami Party; and former Pakistani minister Aftab Khan Sherpao.
Afghanistan has always had a softer corner for these nationalist parties owing to shared ethnic history and decades of cordial ties with them prior to the 1980s Russian occupation of Afghanistan and following civil war and Taliban rule.
Many Afghans, especially among the educated urban classes, have traditionally been wary of religious Pakistani parties like Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif have vowed to create a new chapter of good ties between the two countries, promising not to let militants use their territory for cross-border attacks.
Ghani visited Pakistan late last year and was given an unprecedented welcome at the Pakistan Army’s Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
Pakistan’s Army Chief General Raheel Shareef and the Spymaster General Rizwan Akhtar have visited Kabul several times in the recent past, in a bid to exchange information about counter-terrorism policies.
Still, many Afghans are against associating hopes with Pakistan.
Among the protesters today, Sifatullah Zwak, a member of Afghan National Movement party, said the Kabul government should avoid striking any kind of deal behind closed doors with Pakistan, something they would strongly resist.
The demonstrators adopted a resolution asking the government not to repeat the past mistakes and never allow “Afghans’ enemies” to decide against the interests of Afghan people.