Pakistani military, Taliban exchange prisoners
Peshawar: The Pakistani military and the outlawed Taliban on Wednesday exchanged prisoners as a confidence-building measure ahead of possible talks, security sources said.
Six militants and two troopers of the paramilitary Frontier Corps were exchanged in Shawal area of South Waziristan tribal region, the sources said.
The militants were then taken to neighbouring North Waziristan Agency, described by US and Afghan officials as a safe haven for Taliban and Al Qaeda elements.
There was no official word from the Pakistani military on the development, which came just two days after political parties endorsed Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif`s plans to tackle a Taliban insurgency by holding talks with militants.
Local media reports quoted the Taliban as saying that the exchange was aimed at building confidence between militants and the government before peace talks.
The Taliban are currently mulling the government`s offer to hold talks. Last year, the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan offered talks to the previous Pakistan People`s Party-led government. They withdrew the offer after their deputy leader Waliur Rehman was killed in a US drone strike.
The government has concluded several peace deals with Taliban factions in the past but all of them fell apart within months. Analysts have said the militants agreed to the deals only to gain time to regroup.
A possible peace deal between the government and the Taliban would also be a cause of concern for the US as it would give the militants room to prepare for more cross-border attacks on foreign forces in Afghanistan.
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