Pakistan agreed on Friday to free more Taliban prisoners in the future, a move considered a key step to coaxing the militant group into peace negotiations to end the 11-year-old war in Afghanistan.
The decision was announced in a statement by the foreign ministry in Islamabad after a one-day visit by Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasoul, who held talks with his Pakistani counterpart, Hina Rabbani Khar.
The statement gave no details on when the prisoners would be released, how many would go free or whether the militant group’s former deputy leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would be among them.
Earlier this month, Pakistan decided to release nine Taliban prisoners in a move that Kabul welcomed as a positive first step and an indication that Islamabad supports the stalled Afghan peace process.
The cooperation of Pakistan, which has longstanding ties to the Taliban, is seen as key to jumpstarting an Afghan peace process that has made little headway since it began several years ago, hobbled by distrust among the major players, including the United States. The Afghan and U.S. governments accuse Islamabad of backing insurgents — an allegation Pakistan denies — and say many militant leaders are hiding in the country. (cont)