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Senior Afghan Taliban member reportedly detained in Pakistan ahead of US peace envoy’s visit

Doctor Zalmay Khalilzad, then U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, and Gen. George Casey, then Commanding General, Multi-National Force - Iraq, attend a transfer of security responsibility ceremony in Baghdad, Iraq, Sept. 21, 2006. (Department of Defense photo by Spc. Michael Pfaff)

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

Pakistan has detained a senior member of the Afghan Taliban, sources in the group say.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources told RFE/RL that Hafiz Mohibullah, religious affairs minister when the Taliban ran Afghanistan before the 2001 U.S.-led invasion, was detained in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

There was no immediate comment from Pakistani authorities.

The reported detention comes ahead of a visit to Pakistan by U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is touring the region for meetings aimed at bringing an end to the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

Khalilzad has recently held a series of meetings with the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

The United States and Afghanistan have repeatedly accused Pakistan of providing “safe havens” for the Taliban on its soil. Islamabad rejects the allegation.

The Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) also reported Mohibullah’s detention.

Even though the militant “did not occupy any key position in the Taliban movement currently, he was quite active in the peace efforts,” the news agency said.

Taliban sources told the BBC that Mohibullah had been living in Peshawar for a number of years.

The broadcaster quoted unidentified Taliban figures as suggesting that he had been detained to put pressure on the militant group into meeting Khalilzad in Pakistan, and to agree to meet with representatives of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

The militants have long refused to hold direct talks with Afghan officials, whom they dismiss as “puppets.”