Pakistan’s role in Afghan-Taliban talks

Pakistan releases seven Taliban figures to facilitate peace talks a month after Afghan President visited Islamabad.

The Pakistani Foreign Office has confirmed the release of another batch of Afghan Taliban prisoners, including Mansoor Dadullah – the younger brother of a senior Taliban commander who was killed in Helmand province in Afghanistan in May 2007.

Dadullah was involved in attacks on the US and NATO forces in Helmand province and is said to have been sacked by the Taliban leader Mullah Omar for disobeying orders. His fighters however, deny the charge.

He was arrested near the Afghan border by Pakistani security forces.

The latest prisoner release comes a month after the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, flew into the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, for face-to-face talks with the country’s leadership.

During Karzai’s visit, the Afghans were keen for Pakistan to help arrange talks with the Afghan Taliban and to use their influence to convince the armed fighters to hold talks with the Afghan High Peace Council.

One of the key demands was also the release of the remaining Afghan Taliban prisoners in Pakistan, including the senior Taliban commander Abdul Ghani Barader. Barader was arrested in the southern port city of Karachi in 2010.

Even though Pakistan has not yet freed him, they have said that they would release all the Afghan detainees soon to facilitate talks. At the same time, Pakistan has pointed out that it did not have direct control over the Taliban.

If there were any questions about whether the senior Taliban commanders would accept any talks with Karzai, the Taliban were equally quick to make public their stance on the issue.

A senior Taliban leader Mullah Hasan Rehmani gave a rare interview to a local Pakistani network to give his group’s point of view.

Mullah Rehmani, who was also the governor of Kandahar province before the US led invasion of Afghanistan almost 12 years ago, brushed aside any talks with the Karzai-led Afghan government.

Mullah Rehmani said the Afghan Taliban were still waiting for an answer from the US after talks broke down in the Gulf state of Qatar earlier this year, saying the Afghan Taliban wanted to know if the US was sincere in holding meaningful talks.

He also used the opportunity to condemn the brutal attack against the people of Syria by the Bashar al-Assad regime and said such a crime should be punished.

The Taliban leader brushed aside any notion of talks with the Karzai government as long as foreign forces remained on Afghan soil.

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