Officials in Pakistan agreed on Wednesday to release several Afghan Taliban prisoners in a move designed to restart peace talks between the western-backed Afghanistan government and the Taliban.
Both Pakistan and Afghanistan agreed that at least seven Taliban prisoners should be released, reported AFP, citing a security official.
“Pakistan has promised to the delegation its full cooperation to Afghanistan’s peace process,” said one Afghan official, who requested anonymity, according to the news agency. “That includes the release of some of the Taliban leaders from Pakistani jails who could play a role in the process.”
The move came as Salahuddin Rabbani, the head of the Afghan High Peace Council, is visiting Islamabad for three days.
According to Pakistan-based Dawn newspaper, the group of Taliban militants does not include second-in-command Mullah Baradar, who was captured in Pakistan in 2010.
In the past, the Afghanistan government has pushed Pakistan to release Taliban prisoners so as to encourage and make headway in the peace process between the Islamist Taliban and the western-backed government of Hamid Karzai.
The prisoner release may be part of a “package deal” offered to the Taliban by Pakistan and Afghanistan, reported the Express Tribune. In the past, according to an unnamed Pakistan foreign ministry official, the Taliban was dissuaded from negotiations because of a “lack of an incentive package.”
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