—File Photo

ABU DHABI: Pakistan plans to release all Afghan Taliban prisoners still in its detention, including the group’s former second-in-command, an official said on Friday, the clearest signal yet that it backs reconciliation efforts in neighbouring Afghanistan.

“The remaining detainees, we are coordinating, and they will be released subsequently,” Jalil Jilani, Pakistan’s foreign secretary, said at a news conference in Abu Dhabi.

Asked if the former Taliban number-2 Mullah Baradar would be among those to be released, he said: “The aim is to release all,” without elaborating further.

Jilani was speaking after meeting the acting US special representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, David Pearce, and Afghan Deputy Foreign Minister Jawed Luddin at the Afghan embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Luddin told reporters the purpose of the meeting was to discuss “security and political dimensions of bilateral relationships” between the three countries.

Luddin said the peace process had gained momentum in recent weeks with the release of some Taliban detainees by Pakistan, preparations by the Afghan Taliban movement to open a political office in Doha, and Afghan President Hamid Karzai's visit to Washington.

“Steps have been taken forward in an environment of cooperation and shared concerns ... 2013 is a very crucial year and we agreed we need to maintain the momentum,” he said.

“2013 will see concrete outcomes in the peace process.”

At their meeting a week ago, Karzai and US President Barack Obama agreed to speed up the handover of combat operations in Afghanistan to Afghan forces, raising the prospect of an accelerated US withdrawal.

Karzai also appeared to give ground on US demands for immunity from prosecution for any American troops who stay in Afghanistan beyond 2014, a concession that could allow Obama to keep at least a small residual force there.

Opinion

Israeli flashpoint
Updated 12 May 2021

Israeli flashpoint

There are persistent reports from the US suggesting that the mood over unquestioning backing for Israel is shifting.
Blaming envoys for the mess
Updated 12 May 2021

Blaming envoys for the mess

The prime minister appeared to be using his container approach in the realm of foreign policy.
No entry, no Eid
12 May 2021

No entry, no Eid

On this Eid, amid this mess, many chairs at muted celebratory meals will remain empty.
Election night confusion
Updated 11 May 2021

Election night confusion

Poll manipulation in Pakistan occurs in the run-up to elections and on election day itself.

Editorial

PM’s Saudi visit
Updated 12 May 2021

PM’s Saudi visit

It is very important that Pakistan take no step, or agree to any demand, that can have an adverse effect on national sovereignty.
12 May 2021

A new intifada?

THE situation in the occupied territories over the past few days has been incendiary, with tensions boiling over as...
Updated 12 May 2021

SOP violations

ON Monday, Sindh Police officials were given a well-deserved slap on the wrist by a judicial magistrate in Karachi...
11 May 2021

Kabul massacre

AFGHANISTAN is a land that has seen plenty of massacres during decades of unrest. However, despite this almost...
Divisive move
Updated 11 May 2021

Divisive move

The whole point of these reforms is to ensure that all major political stakeholders are on board, and that there is a consensus.
11 May 2021

Bank loan concerns

THE combined gross non-performing loan portfolio of the country’s banks and DFIs increased marginally by 2.6pc or...