A high-level delegation of Afghan Taliban from its political office in Qatar has arrived in Pakistan to discuss the possibility of restarting the faltering peace talks with Afghanistan.
The confirmation came after media reports said that a three-member rebel delegation arrived in Pakistan on Monday to discuss peace process with Afghanistan.
The Qatar political office of the Taliban, however, downplayed the reports which said they were scheduled to discuss terms of peace talks with the Afghan government.
The Taliban said Afghan people have close relations, long border and commercial transactions with Pakistan and a large number of them are living there as refugees, prompting the “Political Office of the Islamic Emirate” to send a high level delegation to Islamabad.
“The esteemed leader of Islamic Emirate has instructed the delegation to discuss issues regarding Afghan refugees, some problems about frontier areas and particularly to discuss the release of Mullah Bradar Akhund and some other prisoners,” the office said.
Senior Taliban leader Baradar was arrested in Karachi in 2010. In 2013, Pakistan said it will release him but rebels claim that he was still in custody.
Diplomatic sources in Pakistan said Taliban agreed to send a delegation under duress from Pakistan which is under a lot of pressure after Kabul bombing last week which killed over 60 people and injured hundreds of others. Unconfirmed reports suggested that Taliban delegation may meet Afghan officials to prepare ground for further talks.
Last month, the Taliban had ruled out participating in peace talks sponsored by the quadrilateral group of Pakistan, Afghanistan, the US and China due to the presence of foreign troops in the country.
The first ever open direct talks between Kabul and the Afghan Taliban were held in July last year in Pakistan but the process was put on ice after death of Mullah Omer was made public towards the end of the same month.
The news had triggered an infighting within the militant group. The quadrilateral group has been trying since its formation in December last year to set up talks.