Salahuddin Rabbani, Head Afghan High Peace Council called on General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, Chief of Army Staff at General Headquarters. — Photo by ISPR

ISLAMABAD: In an unprecedented gesture of support for Afghanistan’s struggling reconciliation process, Pakistan agreed on Tuesday to release several Taliban leaders detained in the country’s jails.

The development, which hasn’t been made public by either side, came on the second day of Afghan High Peace Council Chief Mr Salahuddin Rabbani’s three-day visit to Islamabad to re-start the peace process which has been in the limbo for over a year now.

It was unclear if the detainees, who are said to be numbering close to 10, have been set free on Tuesday or would be released at the conclusion of Mr Rabbani’s visit.

The group, according to a source, does not include Mullah Baradar — Taliban’s second in command — who was captured by Pakistani security forces in Karachi in 2010.

Talks between the peace delegation led by Mr Rabbani and Pakistani officials would continue on Wednesday when the two sides are expected to come up with a joint statement on the progress made by them.

A Pakistani official, who had been briefed on the talks, told Dawn that “significant progress has already been made”.

The release of Taliban detainees in Pakistan has been a longstanding Afghan demand for catalysing the slow moving process.

A keen follower of the negotiations, who didn’t want to be named, said the release of prisoners was a positive step, which would provide the right environment for reconciliation.

Islamabad has long said that it supported peace and stability in Afghanistan, but has been holding back its cards in view of lack of clarity about the peace process with Taliban both in Kabul and Washington.

However, with the drawdown deadline approaching fast and all sorts of unfavourable scenarios for Pakistan being projected (with the assumption that instability in Afghanistan would continue), the government appears to have changed its tack and decided to more proactively support the process for the sake of its success. It is more than clear to Pakistani strategists that successful reconciliation in Afghanistan is their best bet.

Dr Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan’s former envoy to US and UK, had last week told the Senate Standing Committee on Defence that absence of a political settlement in Afghanistan “could lead to disastrous consequences for the region, especially for Pakistan, which is already reeling from over three decades of turmoil and conflict in its western neighbour”.

President Asif Ali Zardari in his meeting with the Afghan peace delegation reiterated the government’s position that Pakistan would continue to extend every possible support to Afghanistan in its journey to peace and socio-economic development.

Mr Zardari noted that a peaceful, stable and economically developed Afghanistan was vital for Pakistan’s own stability and prosperity.

The delegation also called on Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Pervez Kayani at the military headquarters in Rawalpindi. Mr Rabbani was invariably reminded by all his interlocutors in Islamabad that trust deficit remained to be addressed and that cross-border shelling by Afghanistan was adding to problems in ties.

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Comments (56) (Closed)


YA
Nov 14, 2012 02:38pm
I had forgotten about the capture of the taliban leaders in order to hamper the negotiations in Afganistan since we were feeling left out. What is more interesting in this is the fact that we can get to the leadership of Taliban when our agencies want to but these lunatics are presented as a formidable force when it comes to civil security. How far is our security establishment will to go to assert influence in Afganistan??
S. Imam
Nov 15, 2012 01:19am
The lunatics are running the state of Pakistan. Talibans are enemy of Pakistan, Islam and the people. of the region and should have been taken care of long time ago. If released, they will be marching on Islamabad tomorrow claiming the country.
FM1
Nov 14, 2012 10:05am
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. - Winston Churchill
nadeem jokhio
Nov 14, 2012 07:50am
I dont know which unfortunate Taliban is in the jail,every body is free and roaming around here at his sweet will .
shinwaray
Nov 14, 2012 05:34pm
peace or no peace deal or no deal, our blood will not go in vain.Those who think our blood are cheap are making a big historical mistake. We are merciful to our muslim brothers but a thunders to hypocrites and misguided people.
Anony
Nov 14, 2012 06:17pm
A typical indian comment.
Anony
Nov 14, 2012 06:17pm
Well said, lol.
Syed Saeed Bokhari
Nov 14, 2012 01:05pm
Why not release every criminal, murderer and thief from the jail also along with the Taliban??
Sayyed Bukharee
Nov 14, 2012 02:07pm
They are already ruling the country
Imran
Nov 14, 2012 01:50pm
Set them free? These are the people who chop off the heads of our soldiers. They should have been hanged ages ago.
Moiz Qamari
Nov 15, 2012 12:37pm
How the killers of humanity is released? it seems that our army as usual sold themselves. Our army only conquered their own country. This is there vision on the blood of common people of Pakistan.
Akram
Nov 14, 2012 12:35pm
its a tough one, either release them and try to sue for peace. but release may lead to more attacks, it depends on whether the released want to sue for peace, or are just using as excuse to continue their war. the reality is we cannot kill all the talibs. Some sort of deal can bring peace, but in the peace Pakistan must drain the swamp of illiteracy that breeds this ignorant mind. Schools are the Talibs greatest enemy, in particular girls schools will one day destroy this mindset.
Muhammed
Nov 14, 2012 03:29pm
Why Pakistani Army takes prisioners - i cannot understand!!!.. Indian army figured out 20 years back that taking terrorists asa prisioners is time & money wasted... Just shoot them - 1 bullet is about 12 rupees... taking them prisioners will cost tax payers about 2 lakh per month!!!
Imran
Nov 14, 2012 03:56pm
Same Taliban have given me the thumbs down. Shame on you.
M R Khawaja
Nov 14, 2012 11:21am
No point keeping them in Jail while their comrades roam around in the country and killing Innocent pakistanis better to release them and once they are out of Jail gate shoot and kill them like they kill pakistani people that will be fake encounter and pakistani police is good at it. May be not legal in Iftikhar choudry court but it will be perfect juistice in pakistani peoples eye. they will get one way or other the natural juistice
NASAH (USA)
Nov 14, 2012 12:38pm
One only hopes that the authorities know what they are doing. To release the terrible 10 without their commitments to work for negotiations and peace will be like putting more petrol on the blazing fire.
Capt C M Khan
Nov 14, 2012 10:51am
They should be implanted with a secret GPS detection chip under thier skin so all can know there location all the time. I hope these authorities have thought about this. No harm in releasing them as without them they are already killing innocent Pakistanis daily. So Sad.
Tehreem
Nov 14, 2012 10:46am
when Imran Khan hints at negotiations he is quickly branded as a terrorists sympathizer, when the gov or the army does the same its for peace. Hypocritical!
ImmI
Nov 14, 2012 10:20am
We should accept the reality that we cannot find "Strategic Depth" in Afghanistan by using our old means, by supporting some militant groups.The time has changed now. The only means to find it we should bring ours and their interests in conformity. Help Afghanis in whatever way they want. Find and search out economic, social, political and cultural depths.
ishrat salim
Nov 14, 2012 05:38am
good...but why Maulana Fazlullah activity not brought into the talk, why only shelling from across the Afghan border highlighted ?
Arnold
Nov 14, 2012 05:33am
i don't get it. They've got constant issues with insurgents entering from Pakistan into Afghanistan and at the same time they were insisting on releasing prisoners who are supposedly the leaders of those insurgents?
Asim
Nov 14, 2012 05:08am
Release them?!! How worse can it go?
Khan
Nov 14, 2012 05:09am
These released Taliban will create further mayhem in Pakistan why we are bent on destroying our country for Afghanistan ?
Cyrus Howell
Nov 14, 2012 06:52pm
Your Call. If it will help start an equitable process of negotiation, good. It shows good faith on the government's part. Doubt that policy has changed. The Taliban cannot be trusted, but it also might be just a gesture until elections are over to pacify the Taliban. It still seems between the Army and the PPP administration that one hand does not know what the other hand is doing. If the Army is going to make a big push in Karachi they would want Waziristan on the back burner.
N K Ali
Nov 14, 2012 05:02am
This is a positive development and will assist us in being part of the solution. The duplicity of the of the Americans and Afghans is a historical fact. The recent announcement by the Americans that Durand Line is the international border between the two countries is a welcome sign of the changing scenario. Salams
Wajid
Nov 14, 2012 04:58am
Cant figure out, why Afghanistan inist on releasing Taliban leaders ??? How they bring peace in our country ??? have they been captured because they are peace advocates ??? Afghanistan wants to release them for peace in Afghanistan but brutal killings of civilians and soldiers of Pakistan..... enough is enough..
Cyrus Howell
Nov 14, 2012 06:54pm
What a good idea.
Javed
Nov 14, 2012 04:52am
Releasing Taliban terrorists was also one of the demands of late Salman Taseer's son's kidnappers. So maybe this is also related to that.
Dev
Nov 14, 2012 04:35am
Oh my God! what is wrong with these people.Can they only kill children and defenseless women? why not after the Talibans with full strength and eradicate the cancer once for all.
karim
Nov 14, 2012 04:30am
These "strategists" cannot sort out FATA, Baluchistan or Karachi but constantly dream of strategic depth in Afghanistan. The entire state machinery of Pakistan is a scam.
Farooq
Nov 14, 2012 09:32am
absolutely right body but where would Govt find the will do so
Nony
Nov 14, 2012 04:17am
Negotiations are always welcome but agreement on release of taliban leaders seems debatable. However, let us all sit and start peace talks with people of balochistan as well, our civilian and non civilian leadership should agree on release or recovery of all the missing persons from balochistan. Anyways, the peace process should start from home.
Farooq
Nov 14, 2012 09:31am
let them go and they will come back and haunt us, Afghan never deem us as their friend in history and will not going to change now. Good luck
Aamir
Nov 14, 2012 03:49am
Taliban...Reconciliation process...All are white lies in our face. These barbaric people will never follow the reconciliation procees. May ALLAH (SWT) help us (ameen).
Beg
Nov 14, 2012 06:59pm
Arnold you must come to reality check since after a decade even Americans are dying to talk to taliban as they are unable to defeat them rather facing defeat so better to negotiate and get something in return otherwise nothing will be achieved
Rahul
Nov 14, 2012 07:01pm
So let me see if I got this straight... Releasing the leaders of people who slaughter innocent civilians (regardless of nationality or religion) is somehow supposed to help the peace and development process?
Ahmed
Nov 14, 2012 03:32am
This will be and is a disastrous move for the country. There is no peace with these animals. They will regroup and hit us even harder in our own country.
what is seo
Nov 14, 2012 03:33am
it is first step for establishing peace in the country. we have lost our people, assets and moral values. It is great effort for peace and stop war. we are facing suicide attack, losing security forces and economic down streaming.
Beg
Nov 14, 2012 07:04pm
Wajid remember defeated army can't dictate the terms so you have to comply to the winner dictates. Simple logic to figure out
khurram
Nov 14, 2012 03:09am
totally wrong step. Talibans should be hanged as they are captured to demonstrate terror can haunt them too.
Rattan(Sydney)
Nov 14, 2012 08:36am
Nobody(ordinary citizens) will ever understand the complex nature of games played by people in power simply because we are not privy to the back door deals being done.
YA
Nov 14, 2012 02:45pm
this has nothing to do with Pakistan, The status quo will remain
GPS Systems
Nov 14, 2012 08:05pm
Clearly you have no idea how GPS chips works. You must be ex-Pak army. Could not make it even there...eh?
Rashid
Nov 14, 2012 09:52am
More death and distruction coming to Pakistan, I can't understand the Pakistan gov protect your people from the Taliban.
azhar
Nov 14, 2012 08:44am
cant say anything
Johan SSG
Nov 14, 2012 08:53pm
@NASAH (USA):“...14 years old girl child point blank in her head for loving school...” . Point blank indeed. That is a story only those who have never used a military weapon can believe. Have you? It can go through bricks and rocks at 100yards. Take off a limb at that distance. Kill at 500yards with ease.
Neo
Nov 15, 2012 10:52am
lol.. guess you meant to say they are already out and ruling the country ;)
Omer Khan
Nov 15, 2012 01:16pm
The Taliban? have never been to New? York. 9/11 was an inside job. Americans? talk so much about 9/11 and how Americans were killed, what about what America has done to? us and other innocent people. The? U.S is responsible for? the murder? and crimes commited against Native Americans, Mexicans, Japanese, Vietnamese, Iraqis, Palestinians,? Afghan, Pakistanis, and other nations. You are the terrorists man, not us.
MZ
Nov 14, 2012 09:32pm
Why do the Talibans have to be released. They are animals, treat them like animals an get rid f them. They are a shame to humanity.
Roney Indian
Nov 15, 2012 04:39pm
read what your fellow pakistanis have to say, and then tell me if iam wrong with my comments.
Ara
Nov 14, 2012 10:45pm
What a sensible idea. And also implant a detonation device, which can be operated remotely, when needed.
ali
Nov 14, 2012 11:35pm
This is surrender, what a shame.
n.qureshi
Nov 14, 2012 12:45pm
take no prisoners ever.
Mike
Nov 14, 2012 11:36am
With the Taliban there should be execution on capture policy - they show no mercy from young children to old and deserve punishment. Both countries need to have the courage to fight for there freedom from these savages.
Roney Indian
Nov 14, 2012 02:21pm
whats surprising in this news in this bogus war ? Pak just wants to extend this war so that US keeps giving Aid and Arms. double standards has already left this country a failed state ! God Save Pak!!
NASAH (USA)
Nov 14, 2012 01:34pm
A month ago the treacherous Taliban shoot a 14 years old girl child point blank in her head for loving school -- the terrible act makes headlines all over the world -- the wounded girl has not even come out of the hospital -- and Pakistan lets 10 of the Taliban leaders go home? Is there something wrong with this picture?