Afghans met Taliban leader in Pakistan jail: officials

Afghan government representatives have held secret talks with a key member of the Taliban held in a Pakistani jail officials said Monday -- a move that could signal fresh hope for peace negotiations.

The representatives visited Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a powerful Taliban military chief who has been described as the insurgents' second in command, and discussed peace talks with him, an Afghan official said.

Baradar, whose 2010 arrest in Pakistan was blamed for sabotaging peace initiatives, is the most important Taliban leader held in prison and was known as a trusted aide to the militants' elusive leader Mullah Mohammad Omar.

"Afghan government officials and members of (the) Afghan embassy in Pakistan held secret talks with him (Baradar) in prison two months ago in Pakistan," Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, a member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, told AFP.

"They talked to him about peace negotiations. The Afghan government has also asked the Pakistani authorities to release him because he has shown interest in peace talks with the government of Afghanistan," Qasimyar said.

At the time of Baradar's arrest the Afghan government and the former UN envoy to Afghanistan said his detention had adversely affected efforts to talk to the insurgents in a bid to end the decade-long war.

A Pakistani security official confirmed Monday that an official delegation from Afghanistan had made an initial contact with Baradar two months ago.

"We still say there are no plans for his release as yet. It remains to be seen how important Baradar is and what role he can play (in peace talks)," the official said.

He pointed out that Baradar had been in prison for more than two years, adding: "This is a long time in which faces change and new actors occupy the stage."

The new US ambassador to Kabul told a news conference Monday that there are signs that the Taliban are considering peace talks with the Afghan government and "contacts" are taking place.

Ambassador James Cunningham did not refer directly to the reported meeting in the Pakistani jail, but said in answer to a question: "There are contacts taking place, mostly at this point among Afghans -- Taliban and Afghans.

"There are a number of different elements at play. None of them are yet definitive, creating a concrete way forward, but we do see signs that... there is some rethinking going on among the Taliban about the future choices that they face."

Cunningham attributed this to the "clarity of the message" the United States and the West have sent out that they will not abandon Afghanistan when NATO's 130,000 troops pull out in 2014.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has long sought to negotiate with the Taliban but the Islamist militia has in public refused to deal with his administration, branding it an American puppet.

Earlier this year the Taliban also announced they had abandoned contact with US officials aimed at securing a prisoner swap as a first step towards peace talks in the Gulf state of Qatar.

The US and NATO would welcome Afghan peace talks that would allow them to claim, as they withdraw, that the decade-long war has brought some stability to the country.

Without that, there is widespread fear that the Taliban will make gains against the ill-prepared Afghan security forces and that the country will once again plunge into a multi-factional civil war.

The Taliban are far from defeated on the battlefield. NATO has noted an 11 percent increase in attacks since the launch of the militants' annual summer offensive over the same period last year.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills
    N. Korea fires missiles in anger at South-US military drills

    North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea and vowed "merciless" retaliation Monday as the US and South Korea kicked off joint military drills denounced by Pyongyang as recklessly confrontational. The annual exercises always trigger a surge in military tensions and warlike rhetoric on the divided peninsula, and analysts saw the North's missile tests as a prelude to a concerted campaign of sabre-rattling. "If there is a particularly sharp escalation, we could see the …

  • Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together
    Couple married 67 years holds hands in final hours together

    FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — After spending 67 years together as devoted husband and wife, there was no question how Floyd and Violet Hartwig would end their lives — together. …

  • Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao
    Hijacked Indonesian vessel found in Davao

    An Indonesian cargo vessel that was hijacked a month ago in North Sulawesi, Indonesia has been found stuck in the waters off Mati, Davao Oriental, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) reported yesterday. PCG spokesperson Armand Balilo said the PCG- Southeastern Mindanao district was informed on Feb. 23 that the M/T Rehoboth was found aground off Barangay Cabuaya. Four personnel from the local PCG district office were sent to verify the report. The vessel was reportedly hijacked by …

  • Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf
    Military steps up offensive vs BIFF, Abu Sayyaf

    Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gregorio Pio Catapang Jr. has ordered the sustained campaign against the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) following the successive offensives against the armed groups last week. A total of 24 Abu Sayyaf bandits and two soldiers were killed in recent clashes in Sulu last week. The Joint Task Group Sulu has received information that Abu Sayyaf leader Radulan Sahiron was wounded during one of the encounters but this is …

  • 'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait
    'Jihadi John' relatives under watch in Kuwait

    Kuwaiti authorities are closely monitoring several relatives of "Jihadi John" who live and work in the Gulf emirate where the Islamic State executioner was born, press reports said on Sunday. A number of relatives of Mohammed Emwazi, named as the militant who has beheaded at least five Western hostages, are working in Kuwait and like him hold British citizenship, Al-Qabas newspaper reported. "Security agencies have taken the necessary measures to monitor them round the clock," the paper said, …

  • Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros
    Militants want US Marines pulled out of Negros

    The militant group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) is calling for the pullout of US Marines who arrived in Sagay City, Negros Occidental last Wednesday to train Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the allied forces. The SAF commandos and the allied forces will secure the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) ministerial meeting in this city. Bayan-Negros secretary general Christian Tuayon said the US troops might violate the human rights of activists, especially those …

  • Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA
    Binay backs house arrest for JPE, GMA

    Vice President Jejomar Binay yesterday supported proposals to put Sen. Juan Ponce Enrile and former President now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo under house arrest. “Government prosecutors are opposing house arrest for… Enrile. Binay issued the statement after the 91-year-old Enrile was rushed to the Makati Medical Center on Thursday due to pneumonia. House arrest for him would be the compassionate thing to do,” he added. …

  • Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon
    Interview: Australia says hunt for missing MH370 jet may be called off soon

    By Matt Siegel CANBERRA (Reuters) - The search for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 cannot go on forever, Australia's deputy prime minister said, and discussions are already under way between Australia, China and Malaysia as to whether to call off the hunt within weeks. No trace has been found of the Boeing 777 aircraft, which disappeared a year ago this week carrying 239 passengers and crew, in what has become one of the greatest mysteries in aviation history. The search of a rugged …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options