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High Peace Council Welcomes Pakistan’s Taliban Release Plan

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Kabul – The Afghan High Peace Council (HPC) on Saturday welcomed Pakistan’s decision to give a formal role to the Afghan government in the release of the remaining Taliban prisoners amid concerns that those being released are returning to the insurgency. The Pakistani government will consult the Afghan High Peace Council through a new coordination mechanism being set up before setting more Taliban prisoners free.

“We would send lists of Taliban prisoners that we intend to release to the Afghan High Peace Council which would comment on the names in those lists,” Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani told the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Friday, Dawn News reported.

The HPC said the move is a strong step towards more cooperation between the two countries. “Releasing the Afghan Taliban prisoners from Pakistan upon an agreement with the High Peace Council is a strong positive action for the peace talks,” HPC member Mawlawi Shahzada Shahed told TOLOnews Saturday.

“It will have a positive effect, and it serves the need for more cooperative peace programmes between countries in the region and the international community,” Shahed added. The decision comes after Pakistani and Afghan leaders met during a trilateral summit in London last week.

The meeting, led by British Prime Minister David Cameron, began with a dinner Sunday evening with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and continued Monday. They were joined by foreign ministers, chiefs of defence staff, chiefs of intelligence, the Afghan national security adviser and the chairman of the Afghan High Peace Council.

It was the third round of discussions since Cameron instigated the trilateral process last year, but it was the first time that foreign ministers, military leaders and intelligence chiefs are attending. Pakistan has so far released 26 Taliban prisoners in at least two batches. Those released included some high-profile Afghan commanders and political leadership of the Taliban regime, according to reports. (Tolonews)

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