Afghanistan presses Pakistan on Taliban releases

By AFP
Published: November 30, 2012

Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar (R) shakes hands with her Afghan counterpart Zalmai Rassoul prior to their meeting in Islamabad on November 30, 2012. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: Afghanistan on Friday sent its second high-level delegation in weeks to Islamabad to press for the release of Taliban prisoners in a bid to kickstart peace efforts, officials said.

Talks this month between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s High Peace Council resulted in the release of nine Taliban, but not the militia’s former deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was captured in 2010.

Afghan officials believe senior Taliban leaders held in Pakistan could help bring militants to the negotiating table, if released from jail, to end over a decade of war ahead of the 2014 pull-out of US-led NATO troops.

“I hope that we will continue to implement other concrete measures in a timely manner and push the peace process forward… so that all those who can help advance the peace process go free,” said Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul.

He spoke following talks with his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar and before meeting Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.

An Afghan official told AFP ahead of the meetings that Rassoul would ask for the release of further Taliban detainees in Pakistan, including Baradar.

The Taliban, leading an 11-year insurgency since the 2001 US-led invasion, has welcomed the releases, but refuses to negotiate directly with Kabul, calling the government of President Hamid Karzai a US puppet.

Pakistan confirmed that the release of prisoners had been discussed again Friday.

“Other elements, whether it had to do with the release of prisoners or the safe passage or the facilitation of contacts, were all discussed thoroughly and we will all agree that we are making forward movement on each one of those elements,” Khar said.

But a senior Pakistani security official told AFP that “no decision” has so far been taken on whether to release Baradar.

“We have to ascertain how important he can be. Pakistan believes Baradar may not be enjoying the same clout he used to have before being arrested in Karachi two years ago,” the official said.

Preliminary contacts between the US and the Taliban in Doha were broken off in March when the militants failed to secure the release of five of their comrades held at the Guantanamo Bay prison on the US base in Cuba.

Support from Pakistan, which backed the 1996-2001 Taliban regime in Kabul, is seen as crucial to peace in Afghanistan after the departure of NATO forces.

Reader Comments (7)

  • Batman
    Nov 30, 2012 - 1:39PM

    What the heck?! Aren’t the Taliban supposed to be the common enemy here?

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  • Toba Alu
    Nov 30, 2012 - 1:40PM

    Shaking hands between a (old) man and (young) woman is culturally not done. The Taliban surely will put both of them in the camp of “totally spoiled” by the West. Maybe they have a point the first being a member of the American Society of Nephrology and the second having studied at the University of Massachusetts. Typical a form of local peace making. :-)

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  • Muhammad
    Nov 30, 2012 - 3:51PM

    What a joke. From last 10 years, we have been banished for not catching enough of them and now criticised for not releasing them sooner. Insanity at its hike.

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  • Munna
    Nov 30, 2012 - 3:55PM

    yah so they can use them against Pakistan?

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  • Khan
    Nov 30, 2012 - 5:36PM

    He is here to get high-profile militants freed for peace. What a contradiction! Now who supports terrorists? The country who spent billions of rupees to capture them or the one who wants them free for the sake of ‘so-called’ peace?

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  • Nov 30, 2012 - 6:22PM

    Atleast get Dr Afia, water rights of river Kabul and waiver of some debt in return

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  • sam
    Nov 30, 2012 - 7:55PM

    beautiful fm

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