Pakistan Releases 8 Afghan Taliban Prisoners

News - Afghanistan


The Pakistan government has released eight members of the Afghan Taliban from prison on Monday, including the former justice minister under the Taliban.

"We have released some more Taliban prisoners today as our help in the peace process in Afghanistan," the Pakistan Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said.

Eight detainees were released, including Nooruddin Turabi, the justice minister under the Taliban, it said.

Pakistan is seen as a lynchpin in efforts to bring about peace in Afghanistan as foreign troops plan to depart the country in 2014.

Mohammad Azam, a former guard of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was also among those released, a Taliban official told AP. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorised to speak to reporters about the sensitive subject.

It was not clear what role the eight released prisoners might play in bringing Taliban leaders to the negotiating table or what links they have to the group's current leadership, the AP reported.

Kabul has been pressing its neighbor to release more prisoners who they hope would bring the Taliban to the negotiating table before the US troops go home.

On Sunday, the government has finalised a plan for opening a Taliban liaison office in Qatar, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Janan Moosazai said.

The talks with the government of Qatar over opening the office will begin soon, he said.

The spokesman also stated that opening the Taliban office is aimed at facilitating the group to enter into negotiations.

Moosazai urged that, although the government endeavours to hold talks with the Taliban inside Afghanistan and will guarantee the safety of their representatives, there is a need for opening a Taliban office in another country.

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