- Adam Lanza’s dad: He would’ve killed me ‘in a heartbeat’
- North Korea holds election: 100% turnout, Kim Jong-un gets — 100% of vote
- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
Pakistan releases 8 Afghan Taliban prisoners
ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan released eight members of the Afghan Taliban from prison on Monday, including the former justice minister under the Taliban, in a bid to boost the peace process in neighboring Afghanistan, the government said.
Pakistan is seen as a lynchpin in efforts to bring about peace in Afghanistan as foreign troops plan to leave the country in 2014. Kabul has been pressing its neighbor to release more prisoners, who they hope would bring the Taliban to the negotiating table before the U.S. troops go home.
The Pakistanis appear to have an interest in promoting peace across the border, as a resumption of the civil war there could bring harsh consequences on its side as well.
Mohammad Azeem, a former guard of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, was also among those released, according to a Taliban official. He spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters about the sensitive subject.
It was not clear what role the eight released prisoners might play in bringing Taliban leaders to the negotiating table or what links they have to the group’s current leadership.
Pakistan has longstanding ties to the Taliban, and its support is key to any future reconciliation, just as its opposition would likely block any progress. For example, Pakistan could facilitate travel for Taliban leaders — many of whom are believed to reside in or travel to Pakistan frequently — to third countries for peace talks.
Last month, Pakistan released 18 prisoners at the request of the Afghan High Peace Council, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said in its statement. In early December it promised to release more members of the group.
Both developments were seen as signs that Pakistan, long accused of backing militants, was supporting a new push to bring peace to a country with which it shares a long border and tumultuous history. 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.
The Afghan peace process has made little headway since it began several years ago, hobbled by distrust among the major players, including the United States.
Part of the reason Pakistan is seen to be actively helping the process is that government and military officials are worried that if American troops leave without a plan in place, Afghanistan could deteriorate into another round of vicious infighting. After the Soviets pulled out in 1989, many of the militants who had helped best the superpower then turned on one another in what played out as a vicious war across the country.
A repeat of that scenario could have horrific consequences for Pakistan, such as a flood of Afghan refugees across its borders and increased fighting in Pakistan’s tribal areas, where the military already is trying to suppress a stubborn insurgency.
Pakistani intelligence officials said Monday that they had found the bodies of nine militants dumped in the North Waziristan tribal region.
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Investigators puzzle: How does a 777 jetliner just disappear into thin air?
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- CPAC 2014: Straw poll signals Paul-Cruz showdown
- Russia besieges Crimea as U.S. seeks diplomacy; Putin remains undeterred by Obama's sanctions
- U.S. deploys 12 F-16 fighter jets to Poland as exercise in response to Ukraine situation
- LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Spoiled-kid culture creates greedy adults
- 80 people publicly executed across North Korea for films, Bibles
- As Ukraine falls, Obama takes Key Largo golf vacation, Biden hits Virgin Islands
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again