In an effort to relieve tensions between Pakistan and Afghanistan, both countries recently released captured Taliban soldiers. However, Pakistan did not release their prisoners directly to Afghan officials, which could cause more problems.
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai and the United States told Pakistanthey both want all prisoners released directly to Kabul authorities. These fighters were allowed to walk out of their cells and cross the border on their own. A Pakistani spokesman told Reuters the prisoners were “just released.” A spokesman for Afghanistan’s High Peace Council said there was not an agreement where to send the prisoners; he thinks they will return to their families.
Among those released were Said Wali, Abdul Manan, Karim Agha, Sher Afzal, Gul Muhammed, Muhammad Zai, and senior commander Mansoor Dadullah. Afghan officials are not happy Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was not one of the prisoners released. He was once the top commander of the Taliban, and Afghanistan views him as a valuable piece for securing peace talks. An official at the High Peace Council claimed the United States pressured Pakistan to not release Baradar.
Karzi’s request for Dadullah’s release was not popular. He was released in 2007 in exchange for an Italian journalist, but the Taliban beheaded the journalist and his interpreter anyway. Dadullah was arrested again in 2008.
Afghan officials released 11 Taliban prisoners on Friday in exchange for Fariba Ahmadi Kakar, a female member of the Afghanistan Parliament who had been captured by militants. They were released in Ghanzi Province where the insurgents were holding Kakar after abducting her on August 11.
Not all approve of the Taliban prisoner exchange, including Karzai’s top opponent:
“The Taliban are just killing time and preparing themselves for 2014 to retake the country,” said Ahmad Zia Massoud, a leading opponent of President Karzai. “Releasing them from prison just prolongs the war.”