PESHAWAR: Members of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) who were in white and grey lists of the government of Pakistan are being released, a senior government official has confirmed. However, key prisoners on the list presented by the TTP to the government have not been released so far, the official added.
“Some TTP members who completed de-radicalisation courses but were still in custody or in internment centres for long are being released,” the official told The News. Well-placed sources familiar with these developments have said that the release of high-profile Taliban prisoners had been delayed until it was decided whether these prisoners should be allowed to go to Afghanistan or “stay in their respective areas in Pakistan.”
“This issue as well as the court cases against high-profile Taliban prisoners need to be sorted out before they are freed,” said the official, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the information. Pakistani negotiators are seeking a pledge from the TTP that the group will take the responsibly of actions by those who share the same ideology but may not be part of the group.
The TTP is also expected to extend the month-long ceasefire to continue negotiations, with Pakistan releasing 42 prisoners so far, sources on both sides claimed Thursday.
“Pakistan freed 30 prisoners last Friday, 12 on Tuesday and 50 on Wednesday. As many as 46 more prisoners are expected to be freed on Thursday,” an official source close to the peace process told The News.
Official sources say the release of first batch of prisoners provided impetus to the TTP to continue the negotiations with the government.
The peace process, facilitated by the Afghan Taliban, matured when the two sides held some fruitful consultations in Afghanistan over the last few weeks. The two sides agreed not to target each other. This prompted Pakistan to free 12 more prisoners in recent days.
Those released include Barkatullah from Khyber district; Abdul Wahid, Fazal Shah, Gul Said and Amjad from Mohmand; Ajmal Khan and Attaur Rahman from Bajuar; Umar and Adil Khan from Dir; Anwar Hussain from Swat; Mohammad Ismail and Mohib Rahman from Waziristan.
The TTP had announced a month-long ceasefire on November 9 after they started peace negotiations with the government.
They had demanded the release of their five senior militant commanders in the first phase, which the government had committed to releasing as a goodwill gesture. They included Muslim Khan, the then spokesman of the Swat Taliban, Mehmood Khan, also a senior leader of Swat Taliban, Maulvi Omar, a former spokesman of Pakistani Taliban and Latif Mehsud, deputy to the late TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud. Senior government officials in Islamabad insisted that none of the top prisoners in TTP list had been released so far.