Rebels' release to boost peace drive: Rabbani
KABUL (PAN): Pakistan has released nine Taliban prisoners and is expected to free other high-ranking members of the group currently held in the neighbouring country, High Peace Council Chairman Salahuddin Rabbani said on Saturday.
Addressing a press conference following a visit to Islamabad last week, Rabbani hoped the prisoners’ release would play a crucial role in the peace process. Without naming anyone, he said the freed men were allowed to live anywhere they chose.
Rabbani said the release would encourage the Taliban to join the peace process. He was confident Pakistan would release all Afghan Taliban prisoners. “With the process of release in motion, Mullah Baradar should also be freed soon.”
A decision on the release of Mullah Baradar had been taken and would be announced soon, said the council’s secretary, Masoom Stanikzai.
Afghanistan and Pakistan had agreed the names of the Taliban leaders, who supported peace drive, should be removed from the UN blacklist, Rabbani continued.
Pakistani officials agreed to provide a safe passage for the rebel leaders who were ready for reconciliation, the top peace negotiator said, noting a positive change in Islamabad’s stance.
On Friday, the Taliban welcomed the release of their colleagues by Pakistan, demanding all Afghan insurgents in that country be freed.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said in a statement: “A large number of Afghans have been living in Pakistan for three decades.”
He said some Taliban leaders also visited the neighbouring country for medical treatment or other reasons. “But the Pakistan government detained them, although they had committed no crime that warranted their arrests.”
Mujahid said the rebel movement, while welcoming the release of some detainees, believed all Taliban prisoners in Pakistan deserved to be set free.
Council members plan to visit the restive southern provinces for strengthening peace and discussing the reconciliation campaign with tribal elders, youth and ordinary people.
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