News / Asia

Pakistan to Seek Interpol Help in Extraditing Taliban Commander

Sharon Behn
— Pakistan says it will seek international help in extraditing a Pakistani Taliban commander held in Afghanistan. Pakistan's interior minister is appealing to the international police organization Interpol to ask Afghanistan to hand over senior Taliban commander Maulvi Faqir Mohammad. Faqir Mohammad, who was once the Pakistani Taliban's second in command, was captured earlier this week by Afghan security officials in eastern Afghanistan.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik says he is referring this matter to Interpol, so through Interpol we can convince Afghanistan that Faqir Mohammad has the blood of so many Pakistanis on his hands and he is involved in a number of crimes, to deport him, as he should be tried in Pakistan under local laws.

The Afghan government, so far, has declined to hand over the militant leader.

Faqir Mohammad in 2010 was the second in command of Pakistan's Taliban, and is believed to be behind a number of deadly attacks in Pakistan. He reportedly fell out of favor within the militant network when he suggested talks with the government, and took refuge in neighboring Afghanistan.

But the Pakistani Taliban recently has offered to sit down with the government to discuss an end to the violence that has afflicted the country for almost a decade.

Islamabad government officials have yet to accept, or reject, the Tehrik-e-Taliban's offer of peace talks.

Malik says the Taliban first should prove its desire for peace by laying down its weapons.

"The Taliban will have to demonstrate how serious it is about these talks, such as announcing a negotiating team. It would be good if they denounce terrorism.  If [leaders] Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman surrender, we will give them amnesty according to law," he said.

Repeated military operations have failed to completely uproot the militants from their bases in tribal areas along the Afghan border.

Security analyst Ayesha Siddiqa says Pakistan's insistence that Afghanistan hand over Faqir Mohammad could have more to do with trying to bring more radical members of the Taliban to the table.

"He was one of those bad Taliban who had apparently turned mild or favorable toward the Pakistani state. Now, if you are asking for him from the Afghan government, it's either you are building his credibility or need him to talk to the other bad Taliban, and is therefore critical," he said.

Malik's high profile push for the Taliban commander comes as the government is about to face national elections.

Opposition parties have put pressure on the government to consider the Taliban outreach. Past peace deals with Taliban factions drew international criticism for eroding rights in Taliban-held areas and not delivering sustainable peace.

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