Key Taliban leader arrested in Pakistan
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Key Taliban leader arrested in Pakistan

Pakistan Daily Times | August 18, 2005

* Expulsion of foreign seminary students to begin in 3 weeks
* 2,500 Afghan refugees studying in madrassas won’t be expelled

ISLAMABAD: Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao on Wednesday confirmed the arrest of senior Taliban leader Muhammad Yasir, saying he was being interrogated.

“He (Yasir) has been arrested and interrogation has started. Whatever he confesses to will be followed up legally,” he told Al Arabia television.

Taliban chief Mulla Muhammad Omar had appointed Ustad Muhammad Yasir head of the Taliban Information and Culture wing several months ago.

Yasir was associated with renowned Afghan jihadi leader Abdurrab Rasool Sayyaf’s Ittehad-e-Islami, but joined the Taliban after Sayyaf announced support for Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “He was a wanted person in Pakistan,” Sherpao said.

Asked whether the Taliban leader would be given to the US, Sherpao said, “It is premature to comment on it and I can’t say anymore.” About the expulsion of foreign seminary students in Pakistan, Sherpao said the process would begin in two to three weeks. He said two Nepalese students had already left Pakistan.

Sherpao said there were about 1,400 foreign students in 12,400 Pakistani seminaries countrywide. He said 81 Afghan students with visas would also be expelled like all other foreigners. However, 2,500 Afghan refugee students in madrassas would not be expelled, as they were being treated as refugees, he added.

About the campaign against madrassas, the interior minister said no such campaign had been started, as seminaries were playing a vital role in Pakistani society. He said the campaign to introduce contemporary subjects in seminaries aimed at helping them and improving their image. He said the introduction of reforms was in fact helping students have a better future, as they could play an important role in society.

He also said no suspect arrested in Pakistan was linked to any seminary.

About Afghanistan, he said Pakistan was ready to help for peaceful parliamentary elections next month. He also said Pakistan had cooperated during the presidential elections in Afghanistan.

“Peace in Afghanistan is not only favourable for Pakistan, but favourable for the entire region,” he added. About Al Qaeda operative Abu Farraj AL Libbi, the interior minister said Libby had been given to the US, as he was no more wanted in Pakistan. nni


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