HPC asks Pakistan to free more Taliban leaders
KABUL (PAN): The High Peace Council (HPC) on Friday said the agenda of President Hamid Karzai's visit to Pakistan included the release of several Taliban leaders, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Karzai is scheduled to travel to Pakistan in the last week of the current month for wide-ranging talks with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on security and reconciliation issues, as well as Islamabad’s role in the fight against terrorism.
It will be Karzai’s first visit to Islamabad since Sharif’s election as prime minister in May. The Pakistani leader has twice invited the president to visit his country.
The government in Kabul is confident the trip will help open a new chapter in bilateral cooperation and convince Pakistan into throwing its weight behind the Afghan-led reconciliation drive.
Over the past 12 years, Karzai has paid 19 visits to the neighbouring country, which Afghan officials often accuse of aiding the Taliban. Islamabad, however, denies the charge.
A High Peace Council official hoped the president's 20th trip to the neighbouring country would be productive in terms of facilitating an intra-Afghan dialogue.
Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, the HPC advisor on international affairs, told Pajhwok Afghan News that Salahuddin Rabbani, the council head, would also accompany Karzai on the trip.
Islamabad's assistance would be sought in arranging an international conference of religious scholars on ending the war in Kabul, Qasimyar said, adding Pakistani ulema would be urged to lend their weight to the initiative.
One important item on the agenda is Kabul's demand for the release of several Afghan Taliban leaders who have been detained for political reasons, according to the PHC official.
Several of the Taliban figures, including Mullah Baradar, wanted to negotiate with the Karzai administration, he said, arguing their release would pave the ground for Afghans talking to Afghans on stabilising their country.
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