Taliban man caught as neighbours join forces
A senior Pakistani Taliban commander has been captured in south-eastern Afghanistan in what was hailed as a major sign of much improved relations between the two neighbouring countries.
Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, described as a top-ranking Pakistani member of the Taliban, was captured yesterday along with three of his bodyguards and a small cache of weapons, in Mohmand Dara district, which shares a border with Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region.
The ambush was carried out by Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and the Afghan police, an official in Nangarhar said. “Kabul security forces came into the district and arrested the commander . . . it was an ambush. They advanced on a vehicle and he was with four other men,” Ahmadzia Abdulzai, a spokesman for the governor of Nangarhar province, said.
Haji Sanagul, a tribal elder and former chairman of the office for peace and reconciliation in Nangarhar’s capital Jalalabad, confirmed that Maulvi Faqir Mohammad was in the group of men arrested.
Sanagul said Maulvi Faqir had moved from Pakistan to the northern Afghan province of Kunar about 18 months ago. Sensing his life was in danger, he then moved with his family to Pakistan’s Waziristan province. He had recently re-settled in Peshawar, less than 100km from Mohmand Dara.
In Pakistan the arrest was interpreted as a positive sign that Islamabad and Kabul were capable of joining forces against the Taliban. Muhammad Amir Rana, director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, said it was a major step. – (Guardian service)