November 30, 2021

Talks with TTP progress: Pakistan agrees to release prisoners

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Talks with TTP progress: Pakistan agrees to release prisoners -(file foto)

  • Afghan Taliban acted as a guarantor

PESHAWAR Nov 06,2021

Negotiations for a ceasefire with the TTP have progressed and the government has agreed to release several prisoners.

Pakistani media reported quoting the reliable sources said that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) will declare a ceasefire. Among those released in the first phase are Mahmood Khan, Muslim Khan and Maulvi Omar.

The peace deal will come to light in a few days.

Peace talks began in February this year, with the Afghan Taliban acting as a guarantor, but Pakistani officials and TTP spokesman Mohammad Khorasani have not officially confirmed the progress in the talks.

Talks between the Pakistani government and the Pakistani Taliban in Afghanistan have made positive progress, and Islamabad has agreed to release 102 Taliban prisoners in the first phase, in return for which the TTP will declare a ceasefire.

The News that the prisoners were supposed to be released on November 1 but due to some technical reasons it was delayed and then decided to be released on November 4. However, due to unavoidable reasons it could not happen again.

Media further said that some prisoners, including the top Taliban leadership in Swat, Mahmood Khan and Muslim Khan have been taken to Afghanistan for possible release. Muslim Khan was the spokesman for the Taliban in Swat. He and some senior Taliban leaders, including Mahmood Khan, were invited to a meeting by security officials in 2009 but have since returned.

There are also reports that former TTP spokesman Maulvi Omar was among those released in the first phase.

However, Taliban sources said that some prisoners had told their families on phone calls 13 years later and told them about themselves.

The sources also said that most of the issues in the peace process have been resolved and the two sides have agreed on a future agenda.

A member of the negotiating team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said there had been several successful meetings between the Pakistani government and TTP leaders.

The first meeting took place in Kabul after the Taliban came to power, followed by two sessions in the Afghan province of Khost, where the two sides proposed meaningful dialogue.

Talks in Bajaur

He added that peace talks first began in the Bajaur tribal district in February this year, when some religious tribal leaders close to Maulvi Faqir Muhammad offered their services in bridging the gap between the Pakistani government and the Taliban. Maulvi Faqir Muhammad was a TTP leader in Bajaur and was once considered the most important after Hakimullah Mehsud. Afghan forces arrested him in Afghanistan and transferred him to Bagram prison.

He was among thousands of prisoners released by the Afghan Taliban after capturing Kabul, while the Pakistani Taliban welcomed him and took him to Kunar in a large convoy.

Sources said that when he first met with government and military officials, they agreed to peace talks and asked him to contact Pakistani Taliban leaders in Afghanistan.

Khost Talks

Initially, the two-member delegation went to Afghanistan and met with senior TTP leaders, who agreed but said they would only be part of a meaningful dialogue process. He added that two more leaders were then added to the negotiating team that managed to end the mistrust between the government of Pakistan and the TTP.

Sources said that two more meetings were held in Khost which were fruitful and the two sides decided to bring the peace process to a logical conclusion. An official statement was issued earlier in the day, which was later withdrawn, saying the government would issue a formal statement again.

The sources added that the conquest of Kabul also helped in the peace process as the top leadership of the Afghan Taliban was asked to play a role in meaningful dialogue between the two sides. The Afghan Taliban then handed over the responsibility to Sirajuddin Haqqani, Afghanistan’s defense minister. While Maulvi Faqir Muhammad himself played an important role in the peace process.

“We are hopeful that most of the obstacles to the peace process have been removed,” the source said. The peace deal will also come to light in the next few days. The sources further said that all factions of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) were taken into confidence before the peace talks and all of them supported it. The Afghan Taliban also agreed to be a guarantor in the proposed peace deal.