Afghanistan wants firmer US commitment on funding
Afghan President Hamid Karzai — File Photo by AP

KABUL: The Afghan government Thursday welcomed Pakistan's agreement to release several Taliban prisoners, but a Taliban official dismissed the move as irrelevant to the country's peace process.

Details of the deal remained unclear a day after the agreement was reached at a meeting between the Pakistani government and Afghanistan's High Peace Council in Islamabad.

Kabul had pressed for the release of senior Taliban leaders held in Pakistan. It believed they could help bring the militants to the negotiating table to end 11 years of war before the withdrawal of US-led Nato troops in 2014.

But the seniority of those to be released and plans for their future have not been disclosed publicly by Pakistani or Afghan negotiators.

“We welcome this move as a positive step toward Afghanistan's peace process,” presidential spokesman Aimal Faizi said, declining to comment further.

Support from Pakistan, which backed the Taliban regime that held power in Kabul from 1996 to 2001, is seen as crucial to peace in Afghanistan after the departure of Nato combat forces.

The Taliban official dismissed the deal as “just a symbolic gesture to show the world that something happened in this meeting”.

“All those that are being freed are not members of Taliban any more, they have been dismissed and they're not important,” the Taliban official told AFP in northwest Pakistan.

He said the Taliban were not in contact with the Afghan government-appointed High Peace Council and any negotiations should take place between the Taliban and the United States.

The militants have always publicly refused to negotiate directly with Kabul, calling the government of President Hamid Karzai a US puppet.

But 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 in Guantanamo Bay.

The prisoners freed by Pakistan could play a role if they were sent back to the Taliban ranks rather than brought to Kabul, said Waheed Mujda, an analyst and former foreign ministry official during the Taliban regime.

“If they are released and brought to Kabul it will be meaningless and have no effect on the peace process. They will be just like dozens of other Taliban officials who live in Kabul and have no links to the Taliban,” Mujda, who lives in the Afghan capital, told AFP.

Opinion

Editorial

Noshki killings
Updated 14 Apr, 2024

Noshki killings

It must be asked why Baloch separatists continue to target civilians as well as security men despite large deployment.
Upholding the law
14 Apr, 2024

Upholding the law

THE recent discord in Bahawalnagar offers a chance to reflect on the sanctity of the law and its enforcement across...
Tragic travels
14 Apr, 2024

Tragic travels

FOR those embarking on road and boat journeys, the probability of fatal accidents has seen a steady rise. The recent...
Security lapses
Updated 13 Apr, 2024

Security lapses

Ensuring the safety of foreign citizens is paramount, not just for diplomatic relations but for our economic future.
An eventful season
13 Apr, 2024

An eventful season

THE Senate chairman and deputy chairman were elected unopposed, and 41 new senators were sworn in on Tuesday,...
Living rough
13 Apr, 2024

Living rough

WE either don’t see them or don’t want to see them — not even when they are actively trying to get our...