- Taliban refuse releasing Shahbaz Taseer, Haider Gillani, offer Prof Ajmal’s release in exchange for two of their men, want 400 prisoners released, demand decrease in military presence in tribal areas
- Govt committee to reply to prisoners’ release demand after consultation with Sindh govt
While refusing to release the abducted sons of slain Punjab Governor Salman Taseer and former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, Taliban have demanded the release of 400 of their men allegedly detained by the State.
The Taliban, however, have told the government’s committee that they were ready to release Islamia College University Peshawar Vice Chancellor Professor Muhammad Ajmal with a condition that the government would release two of their men.
The government’s committee, engaged in talks with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), met Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan Thursday and briefed him about Wednesday’s meeting between the Taliban Shura and the government’s representatives.
According to the briefing, the government committee told the Taliban Shura that it would respond to the prisoners’ exchange offer after talking to the Sindh government. The committee further said that issues relating to the release of non-combatants prisoners should be dealt with separately.
The meeting also discussed the agenda of the next phase of talks between the two sides and the demands put forward by the Taliban.
While blaming the Sindh government of committing atrocities against Taliban prisoners, the TTP has also demanded an ease in the movement of its members and a decrease in military presence in the tribal areas in order to establish a ‘peace zone’.
PRISONERS’ RELEASE ESSENTIAL:
Moreover, member of government’s team for peace talks, Rustam Shah Mohmand said that dialogue between both the government and the Taliban could not progress until prisoners were released. However, he said that no announcement will be made about the success of the talks.
In the meanwhile, member of the Taliban nominated negotiating committee Maulana Samiul Haq said that women and children could not be held prisoners regardless of peace talks. He said that both the government and Taliban had agreed on taking the mediation process to its logical conclusion and expressed hope that the process of goodwill gestures would begin soon.
Sami said that the exchange of demands should continue from both sides and that the Taliban’s nominated committee would meet with the government team tomorrow for the holding of talks.
Furthermore, Taliban peace committee member Professor Ibrahim, while commenting on the situation, has said that negotiations between the government and the Taliban were progressing in a positive way.
“You can’t get everything in one sitting – things take time,” Prof Ibrahim said.
“We’re hopeful it [ceasefire] will be extended soon and converted into permanent peace,” he said, referring to a month-long ceasefire agreement due to expire on March 31.
The meeting yesterday was a “necessary step” for building confidence, Ibrahim said. The two sides agreed to meet again, he said, without disclosing the talks’ venue.