Afghan and US officials are now focusing on peace talks with the Taliban group as the only way to end the ongoing war in Afghanistan is peace talks with the group. The government of Afghanistan had repeatedly asked Pakistan for releasing senior members of the group from the country’s prisons to help Afghan peace efforts.
During US special envoy for Afghanistan peace and reconciliation Zalmay Khalilzad’s first visit to the region after he assumed as US envoy for Afghanistan, Pakistan released Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Taliban’s senior member to help and revive peace talks between the group and Afghanistan government.
Last Monday, Pakistan released two other Taliban officials during US special envoy Khalilzad’s second visit to the region, in what could be part of American efforts to revive peace talks with the insurgent group.
Abdul Samad Sani, served as chief of Afghanistan Central Bank during the Taliban regime’s rule in the late 1990s, and a lower-ranking commander named Salahuddin, were released Monday, according to media report.
After released the Taliban’s two members from a Pakistan prison, Afghanistan High Peace Council (HPC) expressed hope the release could put positive impact on Afghan peace efforts.
“In consideration to background of the two members of the group, their release can probably help in acceleration of peace talks between the Taliban group and Afghanistan government,” said HPC deputy Mawlavi Abdul Khabir Ochqun.
He added that both members of the group who have been now released from a Pakistan prison had tended to peace talks with Afghanistan government before they were detained in the country. Khalilzad is on his second regional tour since being appointed, with stops in Pakistan, Afghanistan, the United Arab Emirates as well as Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office. The insurgents say they met Khalilzad in Qatar last month. Khalilzad arrived in the region last Thursday and will return to Washington on Nov. 20. Efforts to find a peaceful end to Afghanistan’s ongoing war have accelerated in recent months as US special envoy for Afghanistan peace and reconciliation has started second round of his visit to the region. In addition to the three Taliban figures recently freed by Pakistan, five senior members of the Taliban who were freed from the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in 2014 in exchange for captured U.S. Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl have joined the insurgent group’s political office in Qatar. The induction of the five has significantly strengthened the ability of the Taliban’s Qatar office to sell a peace deal to insurgents on the battlefield.
Sani’s release further reconstitutes the Taliban leadership. Sani was placed on the U.S. terrorist list in January, accused of supplying the Taliban with weapons as well as being a major financier travelling to the Gulf to obtain both money and supplies for the insurgent movement.