Pakistan yet to release key Taliban figures: Faizi
The Pakistani government on Saturday released Mansoor Dadullah, Said Wali, Abdul Manan, Karim Agha, Sher Afzal, Gul Muhammad and Muhammad Zai in order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process.
The announcement followed last month’s trip to Islamabad by President Hamid Karzai, where he asked for Pakistan’s help in restarting peace talks. Last year Islamabad freed 26 detainees.
Their whereabouts are currently unknown, and at least two are known to have returned to the war, fuelling Afghan suspicions that Pakistan is less than sincere in its intentions.
Karzai’s chief spokesman Aimal Faizi told Pajhwok Afghan News Kabul welcomed the release of the seven Taliban prisoners, but important figures were yet to be freed.
He said the Afghan government had called for the release of high-profile Taliban detainees, but the call continued to be ignored.
Kabul has been seeking in particular the release of Abdul Ghani Baradar, who was deputy leader of the Taliban when he was arrested in the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010. At the time, he was believed to be a leading voice in favour of peace talks.
Political commentator Mohammad Hassan Haqyar said Mullah Mansoor was no longer an important figure in Taliban ranks and the rest released were little known.
He said the Taliban disliked Mansoor after his contacts with Michael Semple, a most respected Irish expert on Afghanistan and Pakistan, in southern Helmand province.
Haqyar said Mansoor was not on the list President Karzai handed over to Pakistani officials during his last month’s visit to Islamabad.
He said Mansoor’s brother Mullah Dadullah Akhund had much influence over the Taliban until his death in 2007, but he was not of his caliber.
Afghanistan has been asking Pakistan over the past nine months to release all Afghan Taliban from its jails, but the country has so far released 32 of them, said another political expert, Dr. Faiz Mohammad Zaland. He said each Afghan list given to Pakistan carried the name of Baradar, a man still in custody.
The expert said the Afghan government lacked a mechanism on how to take advantage of Taliban released in Pakistan and know their whereabouts.
He claimed those released in Pakistan had reached Waziristan tribal region near the Afghan border to resume the war.
He said Afghan foreign minister Zalmai Rassoul had recently expressed his doubts about Pakistan’s intentions because Islamabad was not willing to release Baradar.
Pakistani forces arrested Mansoor in Balochistan province in February 2007 and the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar reportedly expelled Mansoor from the movement when he arrested some Taliban commanders after the death of his brother.
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