ISLAMABAD: Three senior leaders from Taliban’s Qatar office have arrived in Pakistan to”‘discuss arrests” of several Taliban leaders across the country, sources said on Saturday.
The group last week confirmed the arrest of three key members, including Ahmadullah Muti alias Mullah Nanai who served as intelligence chief under Mullah Akhtar Mansoor.
“I can confirm that a three-member delegation from the Qatar office arrived in Pakistan two days ago to raise the issue of arrests of Taliban leaders,” a source told The Express Tribune. The delegation comprises of Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar, Maulvi Salam Hanafi and Jan Muhammad.
Confirming the delegation’s visit to Pakistan, Taliban spokesperson Zabihullah Mujahid told The Express Tribune that the concerned parties are discussing the “way refugees are treated in Pakistan and the closure of educational institutions for refugees.”
The spokesperson claimed that the visit had nothing to do with any political negotiations, and that all reports are misleading. “The trip to Pakistan is a part of the visits Taliban leaders pay to other countries, Mujahid added.
According to Taliban leaders, Nanai was picked up from Balochistan. Suleman Agha, the Taliban governor for Daykund province, and Mullah Sani, also known as Samad Sani, chief of a religious school and a well-known trader who has links with the Taliban, have also been taken into custody, they added.
“The leadership had asked the Qatar office to send a delegation to Pakistan to politically raise the issue and to find out the reason behind the arrests,” a Taliban leader said on the condition of anonymity. Another Taliban leader stated that the peace process was also on the agenda.
The arrests came amid reports that a senior Taliban leader held talks with Afghan and American officials in Qatar to discuss prospects of peace negotiations. Though the Afghan government and Taliban failed to officially confirm the Qatar meeting, both sides, however, unofficially confirmed the informal sitting.
The Express Tribune has learnt that the Pakistani government is “exerting pressure” on Taliban to join the peace process.