News / Asia

Afghan FM Presses Pakistan to Free More Taliban Detainees

Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasoul, left, shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in Islamabad, Pakistan, November 30, 2012.
Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rasoul, left, shakes hands with Pakistan's Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf in Islamabad, Pakistan, November 30, 2012.
Ayaz Gul
Afghanistan's foreign minister has pressed Pakistan to free more Taliban detainees to help coax the insurgent group into peace talks aimed at ending the fighting in Afghanistan.

With most of the international forces set to withdraw from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, the war-torn country has stepped up efforts to seek neighboring Pakistan’s help in promoting political reconciliation with the Taliban-led insurgency.
 
After what is being described as a highly successful trip by a delegation from the Afghan High Peace Council to Islamabad earlier this month, visiting Afghan Foreign Minister Zalmay Rassoul held “in-depth” talks with Pakistani leaders on Friday to further the process.
 
Talks between members of the High Peace Council and Pakistani leaders had led to the release of a number of Afghan Taliban officials from Pakistani prisons at the request of Afghanistan.
 
Speaking to reporters alongside his Pakistani counterpart Hina Rabbani Khar, the Afghan foreign minister said Friday he hoped Islamabad will soon set free remaining Taliban prisoners.  
 
“This is a time for continued action…in pushing the peace process forward, so that all those who can help advance the peace process go free and so ultimately the Afghan government and the Taliban can engage in a sustained process of negotiation," said Rassoul. "We want all Afghan Taliban to return in their country (and) join the constitutional political process there, and play their part in furthering the construction and development of our nation.”
 
It is widely perceived that Pakistan is supporting some insurgent groups in Afghanistan while top Taliban leaders also have taken refuge in the country.  It is also alleged that Islamabad is using delaying tactics to try to influence the Afghan political reconciliation in its favor.
 
Pakistan rejects those allegations and perceptions as misplaced, saying it has lost thousands of civilians and security forces in the decade-long fight against terrorism. Homegrown Taliban militants have carried out frequent suicide and other terrorist attacks across the country.

Pakistani Foreign Minister Khar reiterated that her country has suffered more human and economic losses than any other country in the war against terrorism.  
 
“We don’t need anyone to tell us how seriously we take the threat of terrorism. We lose our children to terrorism every day. We understand the threat of terrorism," said Khar. "We offer the world the opportunity to come together and to fight it as a common threat rather than looking at which shoulder to put the blame on.”
 
The Afghan and Pakistani foreign ministers told reporters that to further the Afghan political reconciliation process, the two countries have agreed to hold a joint meeting of Islamic scholars in Kabul in January. Officials say that scholars from other Muslim countries may also be invited to the proposed Ulema (Islamic scholars) conference.
 
Pakistani Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani later told VOA the goal of the Ulema conference is to generate religious support for the anti-militancy campaign on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistani border.
 
“The purpose of the Ulema conference is that the Ulema of Pakistan and Afghanistan and other Islamic countries should sit together," said Jilani. "They discuss important issues confronting the Islamic Ummah [world], particularly extremism and also suicide attacks, and they should come out with a [joint] statement against the suicide attacks.”
 
Afghan officials say that the Taliban and other groups cite the presence of foreign troops in the country as the reason for the insurgency. They hope that once international forces pull out of the country, the Islamic scholars can help persuade Afghan insurgents to end their campaign of violence.

You May Like

Multimedia Ferguson, Missouri Streets Calm After Days of Violence

Police official says authorities responded to fewer incidents, noting there were no shootings, Molotov cocktails or fires More

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

For Chanthy Sok, rap infused with Cambodian melodies is a way to pay respect to the survivors of the victims of Khmer Rouge genocide More

Study: Our Life with Neanderthals Was No Brief Affair

Scientists discover thousands of years of overlap between modern humans and their shorter, stockier cousins More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid