Facilitating Afghan peace process: Pakistan frees eight more Taliban cadres

Published: January 1, 2013

Turabi is said to be in poor health. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Pakistan released on Monday eight more Afghan Taliban prisoners – including former justice minister Mullah Nooruddin Turabi – in an effort to facilitate the fledgling peace process in Afghanistan.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Moazzam Ali Khan confirmed to The Express Tribune that more Taliban were freed on Monday, but would not provide their names and the exact number. “The decision is continuation of our efforts to facilitate the reconciliation process in Afghanistan,” he said.

Another government official put the number of freed Taliban at eight. “They include former Taliban justice minister Nooruddin Turabi and ex-governor of Helmand province Abdul Bari,” the official told The Express Tribune on condition that he would not be named in the report.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid also confirmed the release. Two sources close to the Taliban added that the freed men did not include former Taliban No 2 Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar. Mullah Baradar was captured in 2010 and Pakistani officials have said in the past that no decision has been taken for his release.Moazzam Ali Khan

The released prisoners include the Taliban’s former deputy minister for communication Allah Dad, governor of Helmand under the Taliban regime Mullah Abdul Bari, ex governor Mir Ahmed Gul and a former guard of Taliban chief Muhammad Azeem, sources said.

Turabi’s poor health

Turabi is said to be in poor health. According to the UN website, he was appointed Taliban military commander in Afghanistan in mid-2009 and was a deputy to Taliban supremo Mullah Omar.

Pakistan released at least nine mid-ranking Afghan Taliban cadres last month, officials said.

At follow-up talks between Pakistani and Afghan officials, Islamabad agreed to release more Taliban to facilitate efforts to end the 11-year conflict in Afghanistan.

Afghan officials have said that senior Taliban cadres held in Pakistan could help bring militants to the negotiating table, if released from jail, to end the war as US-led Nato troops prepare to withdraw in 2014. Support from Pakistan is seen as crucial to peace in Afghanistan after Nato’s departure.

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A senior Afghan official said the figures freed from detention in Pakistan on Monday were close to Mullah Omar and could help Kabul with peace efforts, a senior Afghan official said on Monday.

“Their release will certainly have a positive impact on the mindsets of other senior Taliban, especially on field commanders who took orders from them for years,” the official who is close to reconciliation efforts, told Reuters.

The Taliban refuse to negotiate directly with Kabul, calling the government of President Hamid Karzai a US puppet.

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 detention centre in Cuba.

(WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AGENCIES)

Published in The Express Tribune, January 1st, 2013.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Muslim
    Jan 1, 2013 - 4:16AM

    Now they are free to kill!
    Our army, our Levis personal, our citizens…kill anyone!

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  • Jan 1, 2013 - 11:04AM

    The authorities concerned (minus PPP), must have thought it out carefully before proceeding ahead with the release.

    It is surprising, so many important Taliban are in our custody and yet the succession or the dissension in their ranks enables them to blast Pakistan. Since, Pakistan is crucial to the peace talks, we are in for a tough time in getting them to talk and make peace with Kabul. In addition, if they do not talk, what then? Let’s work and pray for the best.

    Will peace prevail over violence or will unknown forces put a spoke in the wheel and continue to weaken the region. This is an ominous thought because there is easy money for the dark forces to grease the wheels of industry.

    Salams and a Happy New Year 2013.

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  • Parvez
    Jan 1, 2013 - 2:27PM

    Whose interests are we supposed to look after first, ours or Americas. ????

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  • Sonya
    Jan 1, 2013 - 3:28PM

    Pakistan Army needs a new pair of eyes to the foreign policy.

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  • John B
    Jan 1, 2013 - 6:18PM

    “Support from Pakistan is seen as crucial to peace in Afghanistan after Nato’s departure.”

    How?

    Economic aid to Afghanistan, help in training the Afghan Army and police force, resettlement assistance of Afghan refugees, facilitating investments in Afghanistan and opening schools for girls, women’s welfare, hospitals for recovery and drug rehabilitation, new irrigation methods and farming alternative crops, …

    How exactly is Pak going to facilitate peace in Afghanistan.

    Would like to know in this new year.

    Recommend

  • kHaN
    Jan 1, 2013 - 6:58PM

    A step worth appreciating taken by Pakistan!
    Now, when will the Taliban quit?

    In Afghanistan:
    1) The ISAF/NATO forces leave the country. 2) New constitution is written based on Islamic Sharia law to be the main source of law making. 3) A new composite government that allows the Taliban leaders to join is established.

    In Pakistan:
    1) The government and as well as the military cut off it’s current relationship with the USA and establish the new one based on mutual respect and equality. 2) same as above 3) Pak Establishment stops poking it’s nose in other countries personal matters.

    The easiest recipe of making the PEACE dish!
    Servings: Pakistan and Afghanistan in particular and the entire region in general.

    Side Note: Of course the so called civil society and world human rights organizations may sometimes protest over some matters that pertain to women however, ignore them! They are harmless people, won’t blow up themselves in the public points or burn down schools – at least!

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  • Jan 2, 2013 - 12:03PM

    Afghans welcome any step holding by Pakistan toward peace in our country, releasing all Taliban commanders will help peace newly started efforts between Taliban and USA.
    Pakistan is definitely involved as a neighbor country in the issue.
    Hope Pakistan will release more Taliban soon.

    Afghan Journalist Kabul

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