Pakistan arrests chief Afghan Taliban cleric
KABUL (Pajhwok): Pakistani forces have arrested the Afghan Taliban’s Uelma Council chief and other pro-Taliban clerics during raids on their homes in the capital of southwestern Balochistan province, sources said on Thursday.
A source close to the Taliban in Balochistan told Pajhwok Afghan News that the raids that took place on Tuesday at various parts of Quetta, the provincial capital, were aimed at curtailing Afghan Taliban’s activities in the province.
The Pakistani forces first raided the home of Sheikh Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai, the Taliban Ulema Council chief, in the Ihsaqabad area and arrested Ishaqzai and took him to an unknown location, according to the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Mullah Toor Jan Akhund aka Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai is a resident of Band Taimur area of southern Helmand province and cousin of Gul Agha Ishaqzai.
Gul Agha Ishaqzai, a former gunman of Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar, is the third top Taliban leader after Akhtar Mohammad Mansoor, the Taliban’s acting council chief. Ishaqzai is also head of the Taliban’s economic commission.
A hardline mullah, Abdul Hakim Ishaqzai issued most of fitwas regarding the Afghanistan conflict as head of the Taliban Ulema Council, the source said.
At a recent meeting of the council, Ishaqzai issued a fitwa against the Islamic State or Daesh and killing of opponents, but other participants of the meeting strongly opposed his edict, which could not be signed then, the source continued.
He said another two members of the Taliban Ulema Council, Maulvi Habtullah and Maulvi Abdul Salam were also arrested during separate raids by Pakistani force in Quetta’s Kachlagh area. However, the two were later released, but Ishaqzai remained in custody.
A relative of Sheikh Abdul Hakim, wishing anonymity, confirmed to Pajhwok his arrest, which he said had resulted from a dispute over narcotics trade.
He said Pakistani officials had arrested several others Afghan mullahs from various areas of Quetta.
Pakistani officials had previously arrested injured Taliban fighters from Quetta hospitals apparently in response to a call from President Ashraf Ghani.
Also on Wednesday, a Pakistani cleric was arrested by security agencies from Lahore, the capital of Punjab province.
The cleric, Qari Ahrar, a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) employee, was arrested on charges of supporting the Taliban during his Friday sermon last week. Ahrar had reportedly led a public 'dua' for the Taliban to emerge victorious.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.