Pakistan agrees to free several Afghan Taliban prisoners

Published: November 14, 2012

Senior Pakistani Army official says not yet decided if former Afghan Taliban second in command would be released. ILLUSTRATION: JAMAL KHURSHID

ISLAMABAD: In a joint press statement released late on Wednesday, Pakistan, in a bid to support peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and answering requests of the Afghan government, high peace council, agreed to release a number of high profile Taliban detainees.

Though details of who would be released were not immediately available, with the Afghans wanting the release of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as the two sides appealed to the Taliban and other armed opposition groups to participate in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process to end violence.

The Joint Press Statement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan issued after visit of the Afghan Peace Council to Pakistan stated that all concerned countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and USA will facilitate safe passage to potential negotiators to advance the reconciliation process.

Pakistan and Afghanistan will work closely with other international partners to remove the names from the UN sanctions list of the potential negotiators amongst Taliban and other groups to enable them to participate in peace talks.

The two sides agreed to jointly work for holding an Ulema Conference which will include religious scholars from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Islamic countries. The conference could either be held in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan or any other Islamic country.

The Ulema Conference would address the issue of rising militancy and suicide attacks in the name of religion and the defamation of our glorious and peaceful religion Islam due to its unjustified linkage with terrorism.

Pakistan and the High Peace Council called on the Taliban and other armed groups to sever all links with al Qaeda, and other international terror networks.

Closer bilateral ties

The two sides recognised that close and consistent cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan is key to building trust and confidence between the two countries and strengthening joint bilateral efforts in promoting peace and stability as well as overcoming the ongoing trends of violence and extremism.

They called for long term and consistent mutual cooperation based on mutual interest and respect. The two sides stressed that talking to and maligning each other through media leaves little space for serious dialogue.

Therefore, all government officials and spokespersons should refrain from making hostile statements and avoid blame game.

Cross-border incursions

The High Peace Council and Pakistani authorities discussed the issue of cross-border incursions and shelling. It was decided to discuss ways and means to create conducive conditions and initiating bilateral mechanisms that would completely end the cross-border shelling. The contacts between Pakistan Army and Afghan National Army in this regard were lauded and encouraged.

To initiate an effective mechanism in order to facilitate consistent and practical steps, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan agreed to have more frequent contacts to enhance peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.

A high level delegation of the High Peace Council led by chairman Salahuddin Rabbani visited Islamabad between November 12 and 15, 2012, upon the invitation of Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

The delegation called on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and met Foreign Minister and General Ashfaq Kayani the Chief of Army Staff.

The delegation also held meetings with Pakistan’s religious and political leaders. Both sides had an extensive exchange of views including briefing by the Pakistan authorities on the investigation of the assassination of Shaheed Ustad Burhanuddin Rabbani.

The HPC delegation briefed the Pakistan side on the progress made in the peace and reconciliation process and underlined the importance of Pakistan’s role in this regard. Pakistan supports Afghanistan’s vision and roadmap for achieving durable and lasting peace in Afghanistan.

The full statement can be read here.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Jewcifer
    Nov 14, 2012 - 11:28AM

    I would love to hear from Taliban, “We don’t negotiate with NATO terrorists”.

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Nov 14, 2012 - 11:43AM

    This step may be proven the initial step for reconciliation with Taliban by the Pakistani government……But if this is happened then definitely this taken step by the Pakistani government shall be the most painful and unaffordable for the US’ leadership and US’ leadership shall definitely object and criticize on it and may be try to coerce the Pakistani government not to do so by adopting any possible and easily available means and manifestations but Pakistani government must has to keep in view its and its nation’s interests and security and never has to accept any possible pressure from USA…..

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  • M.Ahmer Ali
    Nov 14, 2012 - 11:44AM

    This step may be proven the initial step for reconciliation with Taliban by the Pakistani government……But if this is happened then definitely this taken step by the Pakistani government shall be the most painful and unaffordable for the US’ leadership and US’ leadership shall definitely object and criticize on it and may be try to coerce the Pakistani government not to do so by adopting any possible and easily available means and manifestations but Pakistani government must has to keep in view its and its nation’s interests and security and never has to accept any possible pressure from USA…..Recommend

  • KR
    Nov 14, 2012 - 11:46AM

    Somebody somewhere has definitely lost their mind all together, instead of letting them go free they should be given a express pass to the front of the line so they can be executed immediately. What in the world our government is thinking have they totally lost their mind…… Shame on them and shame on us for letting this happen……..

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  • iPhone
    Nov 14, 2012 - 12:13PM

    Well I suppose they were staying as guests here anyways.Recommend

  • Zeux
    Nov 14, 2012 - 1:12PM

    Before any of troll indians come, Explain first to me why America is doing talks with taliban and allowed them to open proper office in Qatar?

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  • Blogger
    Nov 14, 2012 - 1:30PM

    Nice move

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  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Nov 14, 2012 - 2:14PM

    What will Pakistan get in return? There are many TTP who are hiding in Afghanistan I hope they will be handed-over for trial in Pakistan.Recommend

  • Afzaal Khan
    Nov 14, 2012 - 2:16PM

    Pakistan should not release them just like this. Pak should get a written request from Afghanistan then make sure that written request is made public and get guarantee from Afghan govt to take possession of these priosners. Otherwise tomorrow they will come back and accuse pakistan of freeing talibaan and proof that we are with talibaan. I don’t trust Afghanistan govt.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 14, 2012 - 4:51PM

    At last, a glimmer of light coming into the South/West sub-continent. The Taliban have kept US/NATO/Pakistan and a US created Afghanistan at bay for nearly 12 years, and now after wasting trillions of dollars/Rupees and other currencies, partial reality is appearing. It is never too late to solve a problem, but the trillions of Rupees will never come back and, for example, Pakistan’s education system, which could have included females, may have been the best in the world with those wasted Rupees.

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  • Aviator
    Nov 14, 2012 - 5:24PM

    I doubt the Taliban have any inkling towards peace, only recently they assassinated the head of tfe Peace Council and another member. They want nothing less than the complete destruction of Pakistan. So well done on releasing them. Now watch them regroup and plan some serious terrorist carnage.

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  • Linchpin
    Nov 14, 2012 - 5:56PM

    This is interesting. US wanted to talk to Taliban for some time. India had pushed for bringing in the “friendly” Taliban who they felt they could bend towards their influence in Afghanistan. US agreed and have tried to keep Pakistan out of the deal. Pakistan put them under house arrest until the US and India agreed to give them a fair share.

    India, I think realize that they cannot handle Afghanistan alone, they have both the Afghan groups to reckon with and the Chinese, Iranis and Russians breathing down their neck. India just doesn’t have the resources or the “intelligence on the ground” to succeed in such an operation while both looking out for their own interests and making sure that the US will not squeeze them to act in ways that will make them extremely vulnerable in the region.

    The US long term want bases aimed at Iran and China but don’t want the headache of dealing with squabbling factions of Afghans and a painful and chronic war like situation.
    Pakistan and India may be able to work out a formula together with the Afghan factions and US interests but they will still be challenged by both the Iranis and China and theirAfghan allies in the coming years.

    The Party has just begun.

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  • Sajid Iqbal
    Nov 14, 2012 - 6:31PM

    I strongly suspect some of the commentators above have ready the title only and started commenting. First, this is not a step solely taken by Govt of Pakistan. The Afghan peace negotiators are here, who made the request for their release. Their motto is to move forward the peace process via these released Taliban leaders.
    Look like our “Terminator” mind fellas have this only solution to kill all the Talibans to bring peace in the region.

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  • saif
    Nov 14, 2012 - 6:56PM

    so someone realy think around to be a looser from this rogue terrain again?

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  • Cautious
    Nov 14, 2012 - 9:56PM

    @Linchpin. Your theory about why the USA needs military presence in Afghanistan is rubbish. The USA doesn’t view China as a military threat – they are economic partners who have become indispensable to each other. Further – why would China be intimidated by a few air bases stocked with drones and a small number of non stealthy fighter bombers? China and Russia share the same concerns as the USA when it comes to Islamic militants. As far as Iran – the USA already has large bases in the ME, NATO bases in Turkey, and a large quantity of carriers etc which are capable of handling Iran.

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  • Linchpin
    Nov 14, 2012 - 11:14PM

    @Cautious:
    Good points, however, your analysis is a bit naive. Economic power and territorial hegemony are difficult to separate unless an economy accepts subservience to another political power (e.g. Japan and Germany post ww2). China and US are economic partners but they are also competitors, US doesn’t see China as a threat to it’s own sovereignty for sure, but the US has committed itself to protect countries like Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, against who one may ask? North Korea? I think not. It’s all about who calls the shots not who will destroy who.

    US does not only have bases in Afghanistan but also in S Korea, Japan, Taiwan, and other parts of the Indian Ocean. Plus they have bases in the Persian Gulf and until recently also in Uzbekistan.China has territorial disputes with all it’s many of it’s neighbours including India.

    Militants are a concern for all states but they are hardly a threat to regional or world powers but primarily a threat to weaker states. The examples at the moment are Mali, maybe Yemen and others. You don’t need large bases for conducting asymmetrical warfare. You use Drones, intel and local governments (thats why the emphasis is n training an Afghan army or using the Pakistan army.

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  • gp65
    Nov 15, 2012 - 12:53AM

    @Linchpin: This article refers to Afghan Taliban whom India has never considered friendly especially after the 1999 hijacking case. During the 1996-2001 rein India had not even recognized their government, so the question of ‘friendly Taliban does not aris’ as far as India is concerned.

    Secondly you all say that India is managing to support TTP and BLA sitting in Afghanistan but yet it does not have the resources to look after its own interest in Afghanistan? A little confused there – eh?

    Thirdly US wants bases aimed at China? Really? A country that holds over a trillion dollar worth of US treasuries?

    And Russia and China are not breathing down India’s neckas far as dealing with Islamic extremism is concerned. They are breathing down Pakistan’s neck.

    Wake up and smell the coffee.

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  • Pungi
    Nov 15, 2012 - 1:05AM

    In the End if you had to do this…What was the purpose of all military Operations??
    This is why Imran Khan says Military Solutions has brought No result & you mindless people ridicule him..!

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  • afzaalkhan
    Nov 15, 2012 - 1:24AM

    @Cautious

    Would you please stop spreading false propaganda, what about new military deals with every country surrounding China? This is Obama doctrine which he set out to do as soon as he became president, ofcoz US never has any bad intentions they just went in Iraq to do peace keeping. Seriously I understand your love for USA but please don’t think others are blind as you.

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  • Martee
    Nov 15, 2012 - 3:02AM

    @Cautious thats because they are up to creating trouble in the chinese western province ..

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  • Bilal.
    Nov 15, 2012 - 3:23AM

    Where are the so called liberals now who were mocking IK when he was saying that we should negotiate and not fight. Seriously shame on them. My leaders stance is always vindicated…Alhamdulillah!!

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  • Stewart Alex
    Nov 15, 2012 - 5:22AM

    Is there an agreement on the below.

    • Who will be responsible if they are caught fighting against Pakistan army again
    • Would they lay down their weapons
    • Would they abandon their role as commanders
    • Would they actively participate in peace process and unite other Taliban factions
    • Would they facilitate the talks between Taliban, Pakistani government and Afghan government
    • Would there be a similar move by Afghans and US for releasing prisoners as well so that all parties involved show the same positive intention towards peace

    Dont just open the gates of the prison and let them out

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  • Nov 15, 2012 - 5:45AM

    @Linchpin: Completely agree with your analysis, well written and well researched.

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  • Nov 15, 2012 - 5:47AM

    @Cautious:

    @Linchpin. Your theory about why the USA needs military presence in Afghanistan is rubbish. The USA doesn’t view China as a military threat

    I can’t hear you over your desperate ramblings to defend India’s meddling in Afghanistan. Were you trying to say something? Hello?

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  • Concerned
    Nov 15, 2012 - 5:56AM

    @Cautious: Islamic extremists are a less credible long-term threat than a rising China. It is therefore a wise policy to shift resources to the Pacific front and contain Chinese ambitions – US and China may be economically linked, but that doesn’t rule out any hostilities.
    You vastly underestimate the potential utility of having several fronts in dealing with a threat – the US is already expanding its military presence in the Pacific through partnerships with Australia and presumably Japan and South Korea.
    Consider: the Afghan-Soviet war where a small American footprint in Pakistan turned the tide of the ‘Communist threat’. A similar formula can be worked out again.
    It’s all about thinking ahead.

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  • Sexton Blake
    Nov 15, 2012 - 6:56AM

    @Cautious:
    Dcautious,
    I think you are correct to some extent. I have noticed over the last week or so that senior US leaders have been in Australia trying to negotiate even more bases for the various parts of their military machine. I hope the US tax payers can afford the military expansion. Just how long can the US keep expanding without going broke. Then again, I suppose they will just print more paper dollars, but how long can they keep doing it?

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  • Karachi Wala
    Nov 15, 2012 - 8:36AM

    Let them go to kill us.

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  • Zubair
    Nov 15, 2012 - 9:36AM

    If you want to end voilance, you also have to give some source of earning to these fighting talibans. They have been in this war for more that two decades now and they know nothing except how guns work. Unless they have some sort of livelihood, complete voilance can not be uprooted.

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  • Feroz
    Nov 15, 2012 - 9:40AM

    @Linchpin:
    India may not be placed as badly as you think in Afghanistan. They have been quietly going about the task of building Afghan infrastructure and capacity without beating the drums and showing any partiality region wise. They have not been poking their noses in the Afghan factional and ethnic politics and have few enemies. Those attacking their projects are basically sponsored proxies.
    All Taliban factions should be deported from Pakistan, let the Afghans figure out a way to democratically share Power. Outside interference by Pakistan, US, Iran and others is undesirable.

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