7 Afghan Taliban prisoners freed in Pakistan
The Foreign Ministry in Islamabad in a statement said Pakistan was releasing seven Taliban detainees in order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process.
Separately, a foreign ministry spokesman said all seven, including a senior commander Mansoor Dadullah were freed on Saturday. They are Said Wali, Abdul Manan, Karim Agha, Sher Afzal, Gul Muhammad and Muhammad Zai.
To a question if they had been handed over to the Afghan authorities, the spokesman said they were just released in Pakistan.
The announcement followed last month's trip by Afghan President Hamid Karzai to Pakistan, where he sought the handover of some Afghan insurgents as part of the stalled peace process.
During his visit to Islamabad, Karzai stressed Pakistan should provide "opportunities or a platform for talks between the Afghan High Peace Council and the Taliban.
The president has previously expressed his reservations over safe havens of Taliban insurgents on the Pakistani soil, saying the sanctuaries remained the main cause behind growing violence in his country.
He said terrorism as a primary concern of the Pakistanis had so far killed thousands of people in both countries over the past decade.
Seen as a crucial gatekeeper in attempts by the US and Afghan governments to contact insurgent leaders, Pakistan released 26 Taliban prisoners earlier last year.
Kabul has long accused Islamabad of playing a double game in its 12-year-old war against Taliban fighters.
Among the seven released prisoners was Dadullah, a senior militant commander who was captured by Pakistani security forces in February 2008 in southwestern Balochistan province with at least five other militants.
Dadullah had been in charge of operations against NATO and US-led troops in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.
Dadullah had succeeded his elder brother — the Taliban's overall military commander Mullah Dadullah — who was killed in a joint Afghan-NATO operation in southern Afghanistan in May 2007.
In late December, The Taliban said they had sacked Mansoor Dadullah because he disobeyed orders. But a spokesman for the commander denied that he was fired, leading to speculation about infighting among the militants.
Dadullah was one of five Taliban who were freed in May 2007 in exchange for a kidnapped Italian journalist, Daniele Mastrogiacomo.
Download “Pajhwok” mobile App, on your smartphone to read and access latest news, features, interviews, videos and photos about Afghanistan.