Afghan negotiator welcomes prisoner release
Kabul: A top Afghan negotiator today said he hopes that eight members of the Taliban released by Pakistan will serve as mediators in the effort to end the 11-year war in Afghanistan.
Pakistan set the prisoners free yesterday in an apparent bid to boost the peace process. The captives include the former justice minister when the Taliban ruled Afghanistan before their 2001 overthrow and a onetime guard of Taliban leader Mullah Omar.
Ismail Qasemyar, a senior member of the Afghan High Peace Council, called their freeing a "good, practical" step in the peace process and hoped more releases would follow. It was not known whether the eight actually favored negotiations but Qasemyar said it was hoped they would act as intermediaries between the Taliban leadership and the Kabul government.
Pakistan is seen as key in ending the conflict. While continuing to battle the militants, Kabul has also be been pressing its neighbour to release more prisoners who they hope would bring the Taliban to the negotiating table before foreign troops withdraw from the country in 2014.
While Pakistan has arrested Taliban members who earlier turned against the government, its powerful military intelligence service has also afforded sanctuary and support for the militants.
Recently, Pakistan appears to have an interest in promoting a negotiated solution to the war across the border.