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Pakistan frees four Afghan Taliban prisoners

In a signal to initiate peace efforts between the Taliban and the Afghan government, Pakistan released four Taliban militants on Monday.

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Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf (R) talks with Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmai Rassoul during a meeting in Islamabad on November 30, 2012. Afghanistan sent a second high-level delegation in weeks to Islamabad to press for the release of Taliban prisoners in a bid to kick start peace efforts, officials said. (Farooq Naeem/AFP/Getty Images)

In an effort to start peaceful negotiations between the Taliban and the Afghan government, Pakistan released four Taliban prisoners on Monday, including two high-profile detainees.

“Four Taliban prisoners have been released,” an anonymous Pakistani official told AFP.

“They include former Taliban justice minister Nooruddin Turabi and ex-governor of Helmand province, Abdul Bari,” the official added.

Last month, Pakistan released nine Afghan Taliban members.

Reuters claims this is a sign that Islamabad supports peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. It's a move some see as the intentional politicization of the Taliban, wherein the Islamic militant group would be included in the political system, which may or may not mollify it.

The news comes a day after 21 Pakistan paramilitary officers were executed, one-by-one, on a cricket field by Taliban and Al Qaeda militants. The day prior, Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud sent a video to Reuters in which he said negotiations were possible, though he added, "we will not lay down our guns." 

Of course, all of this comes ahead of the ominous uncertainty of what will happen when US troops withdraw from Afghanistan next year.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/121231/pakistan-freed-four-afghan-taliban-prisoners