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 Obama Defends Immigration Action

Obama says with his executive action on immigration, enforcement resources will be focused on 'felons, not families; criminals, not children' More

US-Led Airstrikes in Syria Kill Over 900: Monitoring Group

British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the toll includes more than 50 civilians, five of them women and eight of them children More

Report: Obama Broadens US Combat Role in Afghanistan

The New York Times says resident Barack Obama has signed a classified order extending the role of US troops in Afghanistan for another year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
New Skateboard Defies Gravityi
X
November 21, 2014 5:07 AM
A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video New Skateboard Defies Gravity

A futuristic dream only a couple of decades ago, the hoverboard – a skateboard that floats above the ground - has finally been made possible. While still not ready for mass production, it promises to become a cool mode of transport... at least over some surfaces. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Impact US Oil Extraction

With the price of oil now less than $80 a barrel, motorists throughout the United States are benefiting from gas prices below $3 a gallon. But as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the decreasing price of petroleum has a downside for the hydraulic fracturing industry in the United States.
Video

Video Tensions Build on Korean Peninsula Amid Military Drills

It has been another tense week on the Korean peninsula as Pyongyang threatened to again test nuclear weapons while the U.S. and South Korean forces held joint military exercises in a show of force. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from the Kunsan Air Base in South Korea.
Video

Video Mama Sarah Obama Honored at UN Women’s Entrepreneurship Day

President Barack Obama's step-grandmother is in the United States to raise money to build a $12 million school and hospital center in Kogelo, Kenya, the birthplace of the president's father, Barack Obama, Sr. She was honored for her decades of work to aid poor Kenyans at a Women's Entrepreneurship Day at the United Nations.
Video

Video Gay Evangelicals Argue That Bible Does Not Condemn Homosexuality

More than 30 U.S. states now recognize same-sex marriages, and an increasing number of mainline American churches are blessing them. But evangelical church members- which account for around 30 percent of the U.S. adult population - believe the Bible unequivocally condemns homosexuality. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender evangelicals are coming out. Backed by a prominent evangelical scholar, they argue that the traditional reading of the bible is wrong.
Video

Video Ebola Economic Toll Stirs W. Africa Food Security Concerns

The World Bank said Wednesday that it expects the economic impact of the Ebola outbreak on the sub-Saharan economy to cost somewhere betweenf $3 billion to $4 billion - well below a previously-outlined worst-case scenario of $32 billion. Some economists, however, paint a gloomier picture - warning that the disruption to regional markets and trading is considerable. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Mexico Protests Escalate Over Disappearances

Protests in Mexico over 43 students missing since September continue to escalate, reflecting growing anger among Mexicans about a political system they view as corrupt, and increasingly tainted by the drug trade. Mounting outrage over the disappearances is now focused on the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto, accused of not doing enough to end insecurity in the country. More from VOA's Victoria Macchi.
Video

Video US Senate Votes Down Controversial Oil Pipeline - For Now

The U.S. Senate has rejected construction of a controversial pipeline to transport Canadian oil to American refineries. The $5 billion project still could be approved next year, but it faces a possible veto by President Barack Obama. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, the pipeline has exposed deep divisions in Congress about America’s energy future.
Video

Video Can Minsk Cease-fire Agreement Hold?

Growing tensions between government troops and separatists in eastern Ukraine further threaten a cease-fire agreement reached two months ago in the Belarusian capital of Minsk. Critics of U.S. policy in Ukraine say it is time the Obama administration gives up on that much-violated cease-fire and moves toward a new deal with Russia. VOA's Scott Stearns has more.
Video

Video Chaos, Abuse Defy Solution in Libya

The political and security crisis in Libya is deepening, with competing governments and, according to Amnesty International, widespread human rights violations committed with impunity. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video US Hosts Record 866,000 Foreign Students

Close to 900,000 international students are studying at American universities and colleges, more than ever before. About half of them come from Asia, mostly China. The United States hosts more foreign students than any other country in the world, and its foreign student population is steadily growing. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ferguson Church Grapples with Race Relations

Many white residents of Ferguson, Missouri, say they chose to live there because of the American Midwest community's diversity. So, they were shocked when a white police officer killed an unarmed black teenager in August – and shaken by the resulting protests and violence. Some local churches are leading conversations on how to go forward. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports.

All About America

AppleAndroid