Discussion with Afghanistan on Taliban prisoner transfer
ISLAMABAD, Aug 10: Pakistan on Friday said it was negotiating with Afghanistan the transfer of Taliban prisoners for assisting reconciliation process in the war-ravaged country.
“The issue of prisoners is under discussion between the two countries,” Foreign Office spokesman Moazzam Khan said at the weekly briefing.
The Afghan High Peace Council has been asking Pakistan to transfer the (Afghan) Taliban in their custody to prisons in Afghanistan. They are particularly interested in having top militant ‘commander’ Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
The spokesman acknowledged that Mullah Baradar was in Pakistan’s custody. It was speculated at the time of Mullah Baradar’s arrest in January 2010 that the action had removed a man who could have been a go-between in any peace negotiations. At the time of his arrest, Mullah Baradar was second-in-command in Taliban hierarchy.
There were rumours that Afghan High Peace Council chief Salahuddin Rabbani had cancelled his much-anticipated trip to Pakistan earlier this week because of lack of progress on the issue of transfer of Taliban prisoners and absence of any concrete proposal for delivering Taliban leadership at the negotiating table.
Mr Rabbani had in a media interview said: “By releasing them (Taliban prisoners) or giving them to Afghan custody, that would help the process.”
However, the spokesman denied that the prisoners’ issue was behind the trip’s cancellation. He instead attributed the postponement to scheduling issues.
“Basically there is a scheduling problem as both sides are trying to chalk out a mutually convenient date. I don’t see anything beyond that,” Mr Khan said.
Mr Rabbani had been invited by Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. “We attach a lot of importance to their (High Peace Council’s) visit to Pakistan.”
SYRIA: The spokesman said Pakistan was very concerned about the deteriorating situation in Syria. “We want a peaceful resolution of the issue based on the principles of non-intervention, non-interference and, of course, non use of force.”