Army, Pakistani Taliban exchange prisoners ahead of likely talks.
|Pakistani policemen escort a suspected|
militant of the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan
. – File Photo by AFP
DERA ISMAIL KHAN | AP | 11 Sep 2013 :: The armed forces of Pakistan and Taliban militants exchanged prisoners Wednesday as a confidence building measure ahead of possible peace talks, intelligence officials and a militant commander said.
The exchange included six militants of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and two paramilitary Frontier Corps soldiers, officials and the commander said.
It occurred in the Shawal area of the South Waziristan tribal region. The militants were subsequently taken to neighboring North Waziristan, the country's main Taliban sanctuary.
Militants fired in the air with joy when their colleagues were freed, the intelligence officials said. The officials and the Taliban commander spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to journalists.
The release occurred only days after Pakistan's main political parties endorsed peace negotiations with the Taliban and their allies Monday as the best way to end a decade-long insurgency that has killed thousands of people.
The exchange was meant to build confidence between the government and the militants before formal peace talks, the Pakistani Taliban commander said.
Senior Taliban leaders are currently discussing whether to take the government up on its offer to hold negotiations, said the commander and one of his colleagues.
The Taliban said they were open to talks at the end of last year but withdrew that offer in May after the group's deputy leader, Waliur Rehman was killed in a US drone strike.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif campaigned on a platform of holding peace talks and has maintained that line since he took office in June. He scored a victory when his stance was endorsed by other parties on Monday – a decision that was generally welcomed by the Taliban.(Courtesy:Dawn)