Karzai visits Pakistan, seeks Taliban prisoners release

Karzai is seeking the immediate release of some key Taliban prisoners languishing in Pakistani jails, sources have said.

Karzai visits Pakistan, seeks Taliban prisoners release

World Bulletin/News Desk

Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who arrived here in the Pakistani capital earlier Monday on a much-awaited visit, is seeking the immediate release of some key Taliban prisoners languishing in Pakistani jails, sources have said.

"President Karzai has asked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in the presence of army and the ISI chiefs, for the release of key Taliban leaders, particularly Mullah Baradar," a senior Foreign Office official told the Anadolu Agency on the condition of anonymity as he was not allowed to talk to media on the sensitive issue.

Sharif and Karzai had a 45-minute one-on-one meeting before they were joined by Army Chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kyani, Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Chief Lt General Zaheer-ul-Islam, national security and foreign affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz and other senior officials from both sides.

Sources believe Mullah Abdul Ghani, better known as Mullah Baradar, can play a role in persuading the Taliban leadership to engage in direct talks with Kabul.

Asked what Sharif's response to the request was, the Foreign Office official said: "No immediate answers are given in the case of such sensitive issues."

"What I can say is that the release of some Taliban prisoners is very much expected in the coming weeks," he added, suggesting Sharif’s response was positive.

In an interview with Wall Street Journal last month Aziz said Pakistan was ready, in principal, to release some Taliban prisoners, including Mullah Baradar but at "appropriate time".

Pakistan has released 26 Taliban prisoners in batches in 2012, mostly on the request of the Kabul government.

However, none of them is known to have played any role in coaxing the Taliban leadership into peace process.

Support

In a joint press conference after the meeting, Sharif reaffirmed Pakistan's support for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.

"Both countries have agreed that this process should be all-inclusive, Afghan-owned and Afghan-led," he said.

The prime minister assured Karzai that Pakistan will continue to extend all possible assistance and facilitation to help realize peace and stability in neighboring Afghanistan.

"We believe it is imperative to turn the tide of conflict in the region and work collectively for the common welfare of the people [of both countries]," Sharif added.

Replying to a question about proposed peace talks with Taliban, Karzai said he expected Islamabad would help his government in the reconciliation process.

"We have expressed our concern over security issues. The two countries have to work together to contain consistent attacks on Afghan security forces and officials," Karzai said referring to growing Taliban attacks on security personnel and government officials in northeastern and southern Afghanistan.

Karzai and his ministers have time and again insisted that only Pakistan could persuade the Taliban leadership to talk with Afghan government.

This is the first visit by the Afghan leader since Sharif won the May general elections and became the prime minister of Pakistan for a third, unprecedented time.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Ağustos 2013, 09:39
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