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Official: Top Taliban leader arrested in Pakistan

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Agha Jan Motasim is a member of the Taliban's senior Quetta Shura group
  • The group oversees and directs the Taliban's fight against U.S.
  • Motasim was finance minister for Taliban government in Afghanistan before overthrow
RELATED TOPICS
  • Pakistan
  • Afghanistan
  • The Taliban

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A top Taliban leader has been arrested in the southern Pakistani port city of Karachi, a senior Pakistani military official told CNN.

The official did not say when or how Agha Jan Motasim was detained. He asked not to be identified because he is not authorized to speak to the media.

Motasim had been missing for the past two weeks, according to two Taliban sources. They did not know whether he had been arrested.

Motasim was the finance minister for the Taliban government in Afghanistan before it was overthrown following the U.S.-led invasion in 2001.

His arrest is significant blow to the Taliban, said Muhammad Amir Rana, head of the Pakistan Institute of Peace Studies, a think tank that monitors militant activity. Motasim was very close to Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar, he said.

"He was in his inner court," Rana said.

Motassim is a member of the Taliban's Quetta Shura, a group of senior Afghan Taliban leaders based in Quetta, Pakistan. The group oversees and directs the Taliban's fight against U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, according to Rana.

Motasim is the sixth Taliban leader to be arrested in the past month, the senior Pakistani official said. The others are: Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Mullah Abdul Salam, Moulvi Abdul Kabir, Mullah Muhammad Younas and Mullah Muhammad Mir.

Some analysts say the arrests underscore a change in Pakistan's policy brought on by pressure from the United States for higher levels of cooperation.

Journalist Amin Khan contributed to this report.

 
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