Afghan govt., Taliban urge Pak to release more inmates as part of reconciliation process

Kabul, Nov. 18 (ANI): The Afghan government and Taliban have expressed their wish to see more Taliban inmates released from Pakistani jails, in a move seen as a step to lure militants to talks before NATO's 2014 withdrawal.

"We hope the releasing of Taliban prisoners from Pakistani jails continues and more Taliban who are willing for talks are released," The Express Tribune quoted Salahuddin Rabbani, the chief of Afghanistan's High Peace Council (HPC), as saying.

Earlier this week, an agreement was reached at a meeting between Pakistani government officials and the HPC in Islamabad that resulted in the release of a group of Taliban in Pakistan.

Rabbani said nine members of the Taliban were released but the group did not include the group's former deputy leader, Mullah Baradar, who was captured in Pakistan in 2010.

"Those who were released were also important members and they can help us in peace and negotiations," he said.

The Taliban, whose government was toppled by a US-led invasion in 2001, leading to an 11-year insurgency to regain power, welcomed the move, calling it a "positive step" to "increase trust between two neighbouring nations and people".

They also "requested the rest of the prisoners... to be released", in a statement posted on one of their websites.

Support from Pakistan, which backed the Taliban regime that held power in Kabul from 1996 to 2001, is seen as crucial to peace in Afghanistan after the departure of NATO combat forces. (ANI)