Pakistan agrees to free several Afghan Taliban prisoners

ISLAMABAD: In a joint press statement released late on Wednesday, Pakistan, in a bid to support peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan and answering requests of the Afghan government, high peace council, agreed to release a number of high profile Taliban detainees.

Though details of who would be released were not immediately available, with the Afghans wanting the release of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar as the two sides appealed to the Taliban and other armed opposition groups to participate in the Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process to end violence.
The Joint Press Statement between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan issued after visit of the Afghan Peace Council to Pakistan stated that all concerned countries including Pakistan, Afghanistan and USA will facilitate safe passage to potential negotiators to advance the reconciliation process.
Pakistan and Afghanistan will work closely with other international partners to remove the names from the UN sanctions list of the potential negotiators amongst Taliban and other groups to enable them to participate in peace talks.
The two sides agreed to jointly work for holding an Ulema Conference which will include religious scholars from Pakistan, Afghanistan and other Islamic countries. The conference could either be held in Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Pakistan or any other Islamic country.
The Ulema Conference would address the issue of rising militancy and suicide attacks in the name of religion and the defamation of our glorious and peaceful religion Islam due to its unjustified linkage with terrorism.
Pakistan and the High Peace Council called on the Taliban and other armed groups to sever all links with al Qaeda, and other international terror networks.
Closer bilateral ties
The two sides recognised that close and consistent cooperation between Afghanistan and Pakistan is key to building trust and confidence between the two countries and strengthening joint bilateral efforts in promoting peace and stability as well as overcoming the ongoing trends of violence and extremism.
They called for long term and consistent mutual cooperation based on mutual interest and respect. The two sides stressed that talking to and maligning each other through media leaves little space for serious dialogue.
Therefore, all government officials and spokespersons should refrain from making hostile statements and avoid blame game.
Cross-border incursions
The High Peace Council and Pakistani authorities discussed the issue of cross-border incursions and shelling. It was decided to discuss ways and means to create conducive conditions and initiating bilateral mechanisms that would completely end the cross-border shelling. The contacts between Pakistan Army and Afghan National Army in this regard were lauded and encouraged.
To initiate an effective mechanism in order to facilitate consistent and practical steps, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan and the High Peace Council of Afghanistan agreed to have more frequent contacts to enhance peace and stability in Afghanistan and the region.
A high level delegation of the High Peace Council led by chairman Salahuddin Rabbani visited Islamabad between November 12 and 15, 2012, upon the invitation of Hina Rabbani Khar, Minister of Foreign Affairs.
The delegation called on President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and met Foreign Minister and General Ashfaq Kayani the Chief of Army Staff.
The delegation also held meetings with Pakistan’s religious and political leaders. Both sides had an extensive exchange of views including briefing by the Pakistan authorities on the investigation of the assassination of Shaheed Ustad Burhanuddin Rabbani.
The HPC delegation briefed the Pakistan side on the progress made in the peace and reconciliation process and underlined the importance of Pakistan’s role in this regard. Pakistan supports Afghanistan’s vision and roadmap for achieving durable and lasting peace in Afghanistan.


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