Pakistan releases more Taliban prisoners
Sep 7, 2013 / 7:25 am
Pakistan is releasing seven more Taliban prisoners to facilitate a peace process aimed at reaching a political resolution to the war in neighbouring Afghanistan, the Foreign Ministry announced Saturday.
Some 26 other Taliban detainees have been released over the last year in an attempt to revive the troubled peace process, but critics have questioned whether they have enough influence to convince the Taliban to negotiate after their release. Some fear the released militants may simply return to the fight.
The statement did not make clear if the releases had already happened or were in the process of happening. Two Pakistani intelligence officials said the men were no longer in Pakistani custody but refused to share any more details about their whereabouts. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The Foreign Ministry identified the seven Taliban detainees as Mansoor Dadullah, Said Wali, Abdul Manan, Karim Agha, Sher Afzal, Gul Muhammad and Muhammad Zai.
It is not clear why Islamabad, which has historical ties with the Afghan Taliban but which is battling its own branch of the militant movement, had arrested the men originally.
The most well-known among them appears to be Dadullah who was captured in Feb. 2008 by Pakistani forces in Baluchistan. He was a commander in southern Afghanistan. According to the Long War Journal, which tracks militant activity in Afghanistan and Pakistan, he took command in 2007 after his brother was killed by British special forces in Helmand province.
But little information is known about the other six detainees, the circumstances of their capture, and how long they've been in Pakistani custody.
Even Dadullah's status within the Afghan Taliban was not immediately clear. The Long War Journal reported in 2008 that Dadullah had been relieved of his command by the Afghan Taliban leadership, although Dadullah denied it.
The release comes less than two weeks after Afghan President Hamid Karzai visited Pakistan to discuss the peace negotiations.
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