KABUL Afghan security forces captured a top Pakistani Taliban commander during an operation in eastern Afghanistan, security officials said on Tuesday, in a move that could help improve trust between the two countries.
The arrest on Monday of Maulvi Faqir Mohammad, a regional commander for Pakistan's Taliban movement, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), was hailed as a "big blow" to the movement by an Afghan interior ministry official.
Pakistan authorities have long demanded that Kabul take action against Pakistani insurgents who take refuge in areas of eastern Afghanistan just over the border. Kabul, in turn, says the insurgency in Afghanistan draws sustenance from sanctuaries in Pakistan.
Mohammad was captured during a raid in Nangarhar province by members of the Afghan intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), and Afghan police officers, according to officials from NDS and the Afghan interior ministry.
Mohammad has a tumultuous past with the Pakistani Taliban and last year was sacked as commander of the northern Bajaur region, after telling Pakistani media the TTP were holding peace talks with the government.
The TTP denied his claim and replaced him with another commander, Mullah Dadullah. After Dadullah was killed in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan in August last year, Mohammad resumed his role.
Mohammad was responsible for several attacks against Pakistani forces and was known for his strict implementation of Islamic law in Bajaur.
(Reporting by Hamid Shalizi in Kabul, Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar; Writing by Dylan Welch; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)