ISLAMABAD: The Taliban have refused to release the sons of former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and slain Punjab governor Salman Taseer, but have conditionally agreed to set free the former vice-chancellor of Peshawar’s Islamia College University.

Sources privy to a meeting between Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan and members of the government negotiating team held here on Thursday, a day after the first face-to-face talks with Shura members of the outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, told Dawn that in return for release of Professor Ajmal Khan, the Taliban wanted the government to free their two men who were in a jail in Sindh.

Professor Ajmal has been under Taliban custody since Sept 7, 2010. He was kidnapped at gunpoint from Professors’ Colony in the University of Peshawar, along with his driver. The driver was set free after two years.

According to the sources, the TTP was informed that a response to its demand (release of two prisoners) was possible only after the matter was taken up with the Sindh government.

They said release of the arrested head of the outlawed Tehreek Nifaz-i-Shariat Muhammadi had also come under discussion during Wednesday’s talks held in an area adjacent to North Waziristan.

According to the sources, members of the government committee briefed the interior minister on the demands put forth by Taliban. The future course of action was also discussed.

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