At least 18 Taliban prisoners, some of them prominent figures, were released by Pakistan and Afghanistan, with no guarantees that they would not rejoin the insurgency, Afghan and Pakistani officials said Saturday.
Pakistani officials said that they were releasing seven Taliban prisoners to facilitate the peace process, while Afghan officials said they had requested the releases and welcomed the move. Afghan officials complained, however, that Pakistani officials had backed down on the expected release of Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, formerly the top military commander of the insurgents’ movement. Afghan officials have long sought Baradar’s release, viewing him as crucial to restarting peace talks with the insurgents.
Separately, Afghan officials confirmed that the day before they had begun exchanging 11 Taliban prisoners for the release of a female member of the parliament, who had been kidnapped by the insurgents last month.
U.S. officials are known to have been concerned about plans to release Taliban prisoners without any guarantees to make sure they do not return to combat roles, but a spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Kabul declined to comment.
New York Times