Taliban delegation visits Pakistan for peace talks

While Taliban spokesman confirmed that delegation has visited Pakistan, Pakistan foreign ministry denied being aware of the meet. Photograph:( Getty )

Islamabad, Islamabad Capital Territory, Pakistan Oct 23, 2016, 06.43 AM (IST)

A three-member delegation from the Taliban's political office in Afghanistan is currently in Pakistan to hold peace talks to end Afghanistan's 15-year-long war. The meet comes close on the heels of an informal meet between the Taliban and both US and Afghanistan officials in Qatar, the first of the talks in more than a year. 

Political officials from Qatar -- Shahabuddin Dilawar, Jan Mohammad and Abdul Salam Hanafi -- and some other officials will brief the Pakistani security agencies about the Qatar meetings, of which Pakistan was not a part, Reuters reported. 

According to Reuters, a Taliban official had said a Pakistan security agency arrested a senior Taliban commander in a house raid in Quetta to express discontent at being left out of the Qatar talks. 

"We don't know what's going on, but this is second time during the past two months that Pakistani authorities raided a madrassa in Quetta to arrest senior Taliban member," the Quetta-based Taliban said.

While Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid confirmed that the delegation will visit Pakistan, it denied that Qatar talks ever took place. The Pakistan foreign ministry said that it is not aware of any Taliban delegation visiting Pakistan. 

Pakistan had hosted the first round of peace talks between Afghanistan and the Taliban, but had cancelled the second after the news broke out that the Afghan Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, had been dead for two years. 

The Taliban had been keeping Omar's death a secret. Official statements were released in his name after his death.

(WION with inputs from Reuters)