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Afghan-Pakistan talks on release of Taliban prisoners

August 10, 2012 21:34 IST

Pakistan and Afghanistan are discussing the possible release of Taliban prisoners, including the outfit's powerful commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, to boost the Afghan peace process, foreign office spokesman Moazzam Khan said on Friday.

"The issue of prisoners is under discussion between the two countries but I don't have any specific outcome or information to share with you," Khan told a weekly news briefing.

He was responding to a question about Afghan officials saying that the release of Baradar could be helpful to the Afghan peace process. Khan confirmed that Baradar was still in Pakistani custody.

Baradar, a powerful commander described as the deputy of Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar, was arrested in the Pakistani port city of Karachi in 2010.

Reports have said that Pakistani intelligence engineered his capture as it was angered by Baradar's decision to hold direct talks with the government in Kabul.

The Afghan government has said his arrested had adversely affected efforts to talk to the Taliban. Former United Nations envoy to Afghanistan Kai Eide has said the arrest of key Taliban commanders in Pakistan had disrupted a secret channel of communication between the terrorists and the United Nations.

President Hamid Karzai has repeatedly asked Pakistan to facilitate talks with the Afghan Taliban to end the war in his country.

The spokesman said the Afghan High Peace Council chief's visit to Pakistan had been deferred due to "a scheduling problem" and both sides were working to arrange a  utually convenient date.

While replying to another question, Khan described Inter-Services Intelligence chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam's recent visit to Washington as 'productive' and said Pakistan and the US were discussing 'certain proposals' to take forward their relations.

"I don't have anything specific to share with you at the moment. But what I can tell you is that we are working on various proposals," he said.

In response to another question, Khan said Pakistan was concerned at the deteriorating situation in Syria and wants a 'peaceful resolution of the issue based on the principles of non-intervention, non-interference, and non-use of force'.

Khan further said Pakistan was 'deeply concerned' about the situation in Myanmar following clashes between ethnic Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims that have left nearly  80 dead.

"President (Asif Ali) Zardari has sent a letter to his counterpart expressing deep concern over the plight of Muslims in Myanmar and urged him to take appropriate measures to address this issue," he said.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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