Islamabad: A three-member delegation of the Afghan Taliban arrived in Pakistan to discuss peace talks with the Afghan government and recent arrests of high-profile Taliban leaders by Pakistani authorities.
The trio consists former ministers in Taliban government Mullah Salam Hanifi and Mullah Jan Mohammed and ex-Taliban ambassador to Pakistan and Saudi Arabia Maulvi Shahabuddin Dilawar.
Sources in Taliban and Pakistan officials confirmed that the delegation arrived this week and held meetings with "relevant quarters".
This is the first high level contact by the militants with Pakistan since Taliban held at least two round of talks with officials of Afghan government in Qatar. Pakistan was not part of the talks.
"Pakistan has been pushing Taliban to shun violence and enter in peace negotiation with Kabul. It welcomes any move to bring peace in Afghanistan so that all refugees should go back," a senior official of foreign office said on anonymity.
Sources said that Pakistan was keeping the distance with the talks to let rebels and Kabul directly sort out their problems.
But Islamabad is keeping pressure on rebels through different ways including arresting some of their leaders.
Those recently arrested include Ahmadullah Muti alias Mullah Nanai. He served as intelligence chief of slain Taliban chief Mullah Akhtar Mansoor. Nanai was arrested from south western province of Balochistan.
Other arrested Taliban leaders are Suleman Agha, who was Taliban governor for Daykund province, and Mullah Sani, alias Samad Sani, who runs a madrassah and also is a known businessman. Taliban are visibly angry on the arrests.
Their anger was reflected in a letter penned down by former head of Qatar office of Taliban, Tayyab Agha.
He addressed the letter this month to Afghan Taliban chief Haibatullah Akhunzada.
Among other things, Agha advised the Taliban chief to shift Afghan Taliban to Afghanistan to avoid any alleged interference by Pakistani authorities.
He said Pakistan would also get benefits of it as would save itself from the allegation of supporting Taliban.
The first known direct talks between Taliban and Afghan government were organised by Pakistan near Islamabad in July, 2015 but they failed to make any progress due to announcement of the death of ex-Taliban chief Mullah Omar.