Pakistan releases Afghan Taliban prisoners


Afghan National Army (ANA) soldiers in Usbeen village, in the Surobi district of Kabul province on March 14, 2012.



KARACHI, Pakistan — Pakistan released several Afghan Taliban prisoners on Wednesday in order to foster peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government.

According to the Washington Post, Afghanistan had hoped that access to these prisoners would help establish a dialogue with the insurgents. Support from Pakistan is crucial to the reconciliation efforts.

Voice of America cited Pakistani and Afghani officials as saying that at least seven or eight prisoners had been released from different jails across the country. 

Two Pakistani officials, who spoke anonymously, said Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former Taliban second-in-command, was not among the prisoners to be released, the Washington Post reported. According to Reuters and the Associated Press, Pakistani officials have yet to decide whethere Baradar would be released.  

Afghan officials have identified Baradar as someone who may be able to persuade the Taliban to pursue peace after more than ten years of fighting US-led NATO and Afghan forces. 

International troops are handing over security responsibility to Afghan forces and are set to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.