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Pakistan arrests former Taliban spokesperson

[JURIST] Pakistani officials Saturday announced the re-capture of high-level Taliban operative Ustad Mohammed Yasir in the northern city of Peshawar near the Afghan border. Yasir served as senior aide and spokesman to Taliban leader Mullah Omar [BBC profile]. He was first arrested in 2005 by Pakistani officials and handed over to Afghanistan, but was released in a controversial hostage deal in April 2007 in which he and three other Taliban members were released in exchange for captured Italian journalist Daniele Mastrogiacomo [BBC report]. Some argue that the raid in Peshawar [AP report] signals Pakistan's commitment to cooperate with Afghanistan, despite brewing tension with India over the Mumbai terror attack [BBC backgrounder]. Pakistan did not say when the arrest occurred.

Pakistan recently diverted thousands of troops from the Afghan border, moving them closer to India [AP report] as tension between Pakistan and India increased over the Mumbai terror attacks. Pakistani officials said in December that Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi [official profile] would not hand over to India any Pakistani citizens arrested in connection with the attacks, insisting instead on a joint investigation with Indian officials [JURIST report]. Last Friday, Pakistan reiterated its refusal to extradite Pakistani citizens accused in the terror attack, insisting that a bilateral extradition treaty is required [JURIST report] for it to transfer suspects to India.

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