Top Afghan peace negotiator to seek release of Taliban prisoners in Pakistan

Islamabad, Nov. 12 (ANI): Afghanistan's top peace negotiator will seek the release of senior Afghan Taliban prisoners languishing in Pakistani jails in an effort to "push forward the much-needed reconciliation process".

Salahuddin Rabbani, the head of Afghan High Peace Council, along with his other colleagues, will arrive in Islamabad on Monday for a three-day visit, reports The Express Tribune.

Muhammad Esmail Qasemyar, the international relations adviser for the Afghan High Peace Council, said Rabbani would also seek a 'safe passage' for reconcilable Taliban leaders and their families.

Qasemyar said Rabbani would seek the release of all Taliban prisoners in Pakistan, including Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former No 2 in the Taliban hierarchy who was arrested in Karachi in February 2010.

Kabul considers Mullah Baradar as the key to the success of its reconciliation plan, and has sought from Pakistan his release on several occasions.

Officially, Pakistan has never admitted the detention of any Taliban leader, except Mullah Baradar.

Rabbani will meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar and the military leadership, according to the Afghan foreign ministry.

"We would like the Pakistani government - especially the military and its intelligence wing - to press the Taliban leadership into coming closer to the negotiating table in an effort to resolve the Afghan crisis," Qasemyar said.

Kabul accuses Pakistan's ISI of using groups like the Haqqani network as proxies to counter the influence of rival India in Afghanistan. Islamabad denies the allegations.

"The peace council will urge Pakistan to take practical steps to aid the peace process and work out a political solution before the 2014 withdrawal of foreign troops," an Afghan source said. (ANI)