News / Asia

    Pakistan to Release Former Taliban Leader

    Pakistan officials present an unnamed, alleged Taliban commander to media shortly after confirming the capture the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 leader commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Karachi, Feb. 17, 2010.
    Pakistan officials present an unnamed, alleged Taliban commander to media shortly after confirming the capture the Afghan Taliban's No. 2 leader commander, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, Karachi, Feb. 17, 2010.
    Pakistan has decided to release a former top Taliban leader in an effort to resolve the conflict in neighboring Afghanistan. The move comes as national leaders in Pakistan agree the government should sit down with Pakistani militants to restore security to the country.

    Pakistan Foreign Ministry spokesman Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry on Tuesday announced that Islamabad has decided to release former Afghan Taliban deputy leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.

    The release of Baradar, which spokesman Chaudhry said would take place at an “appropriate time,” is seen as a move to revive stalled talks between the militant group and Afghan representatives to take place in Qatar.

    The United States and others stakeholders are pushing hard to bring an end to the prolonged Taliban insurgency in neighboring Afghanistan before international combat forces leave the country by the end of 2014.

    Baradar was once the Afghan Taliban’s second-in-command. But Pakistan’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, Rustam Shah Mohmand, cautioned that Baradar lost credibility with the militant group after he was arrested by Pakistani authorities in 2010.

    "It may have a symbolic importance, his release at this point in time, but it will have no bearing on the course of negotiation -- reconciliation talks either between the Pakistan government and the tribal leaders, militants in Pakistan or with the suspended Doha talks in Qatar," he said.

    More than 30 Taliban members have been released in Pakistan since last year, in the hope that they will help persuade Afghan militants to end violence and become part of a political reconciliation process in Afghanistan.

    On Monday, political and military leaders in Pakistan, who also face the threat of extremist and terrorist attacks, voiced support for the efforts of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government to start talks with “all stakeholders” to end extremist violence in Pakistan.

    Pakistan’s civilian, military and intelligence leaders said in a group statement they had reached a consensus for talks. But former interior minister Tasneem Noorani said it was unclear how that process would unfold and the degree to which the government would be able to make concessions to extremists like the Pakistan Taliban.

    “There is certainly nothing given out by the government so far to say that this is the main ingredients of our security strategy," he said.

    Ashraf Ali, president of the FATA Research Center, which focuses on issues in northwest Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas -- a region that includes numerous militant strongholds -- said just having everyone on the same page was a step forward.

    "This is something good that we saw, the political and military leadership on the same page for the first time, and you could see them (at) one table, so that's a very good move for the first time that we see," said Ali.

    Previous agreements between Islamabad and the Taliban have not held, and have failed to end the conflict. Some analysts said that defusing the war with the Taliban in Afghanistan could help weaken Taliban militants in Pakistan.

    Sharon Behn

    Sharon Behn is a foreign correspondent working out of Voice of America’s headquarters in Washington D.C  Her current beat focuses on political, security and humanitarian developments in Iraq, Syria and Turkey. Follow Sharon on Twitter and on Facebook.

    You May Like

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Annual festival showcases the region's harvested agriculture, fine wines and offers opportunities to experience the gentle breeze in a hot air balloon flight

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora