Pakistan welcomes release of hostages by Taliban

PM Imran says Pakistan facilitated prisoner swap, hopes the step encourages all parties to resume peace process

News Desk November 19, 2019
PHOTO: Reuters

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Tuesday welcomed the release of an American and an Australian hostage by the Taliban and reiterated Pakistan's unwavering commitment to facilitating the Afghan peace process.

In a post on Twitter, the premier said Pakistan had fully facilitated the release of Kevin King and Timothy Weeks "as part of its policy of supporting initiatives for a negotiated political settlement of the Afghan conflict".

PM Imran expressed hope that the prisoner exchange would encourage all parties to resume the stalled Afghan peace process.



Taliban release US, Australian hostages in prisoner swap


The release of the hostages came a week after President Ashraf Ghani announced that Afghanistan would free three high-ranking Taliban prisoners in a swap he hoped would help jumpstart peace talks.

According to an official who spoke to AFP, the two American University professors were released in Nawbahar district of Zabul province and were flown out on American helicopters.

The American and Australian were exchanged with three insurgent leaders, including a key militant figure, Anas Haqqani.

Reuters reported that the three Taliban commanders part of the prisoner swap had landed in Qatar earlier on Tuesday.

"Our three prisoners had been freed on Monday night," said one of the sources, a senior Taliban leader in Afghanistan, who declined to be identified because he was not authorised to speak publicly about the deal.

"Soon after their release, they were flown to Doha and handed over to the political office in Qatar."

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