Pakistan frees three senior Afghanistan Taliban leaders
Islamabad: Pakistan has quietly released three senior Afghan Taliban leaders, including a close aide of Mullah Omar, as part of efforts to facilitate the reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
"Yes, three more have been released. This is ongoing process as part of efforts to facilitate reconciliation," a top official said on condition of anonymity Tuesday night.
Mullah Abdul Ahad Jahangirwal, a former adviser of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Omar, Mullah Abdul Manan, a former Taliban governor in Helmand, and Mullah Younus, a former military commander, were the three who were freed.
The release comes just few days after the government- backed peace negotiators visited Pakistan and met the senior Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Media reports here quoted Taliban sources as saying that the three were "very important figures".
Pakistan has also freed 10 other low-key Taliban detainees over the past few weeks.
The number of freed Afghan Taliban militants since November has now crossed fifty.
Those freed include Azeem Agha, former head of Kandahar Passport office, Muhammad Amin, Sardar, Nematullah, Inamullah, Janat gul, Adam Khan, Salahuddin, Syed Mehmood, Engineer Mehmood and Hayatullah.
In September, Pakistan had released senior Taliban commander Mullah Baradar.
While Pakistan has said Baradar has been released, the Taliban claim that their former commander remains under house arrest and has not returned to his family.
The last week visit by the five-member delegation of the Afghan High Peace Council took place after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted a request by Afghan President Hamid Karzai seeking access to Baradar.
Afghanistan believes Baradar is a key figure for its efforts to kick start the stalled peace process as NATO combat troops prepare to pull out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
He had been in custody in Pakistan since his capture in Karachi in 2010. He was once considered the most influential Taliban leader after Mullah Omar.
Baradar was captured after Pakistani intelligence agencies were reportedly angered by his failure to inform them about his secret talks with the Afghan government.
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