Pakistan Interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Saturday said that the government plans to release 12 or 13 Taliban prisoners soon, some of them in the list given by the Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan(TTP) and some others as well.
Talking to the media after meeting the government-appointed committee and the TTP nominees to review the peace talks, Chaudhry Nisar said that the process of talks was going on smoothly and one had to be patient.
He said the second round of talks with the TTP shura would be held next week and this was a defining moment in the dialogue. However, he expected that as the government was prepared to release TTP prisoners, non- combatants held by the Taliban should also be set free.
The government has already released 19 non-combatants in March and more will follow. The TTP had non combatants and innocent people in their captivity, for instance the sons of the late Punjab governor Salman Taseer and former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani, and they too should be released along with some foreigners and government servants, he said.
The number of those released should go upto 30 or so by the time peace talks progress, he said. He reiterated the TTP had to respond to the government's gesture and it wont work one way. It was easy to conduct a military operation against the militants but negotiating peace was more difficult. Already in the last four to five weeks there was peace and the meeting discussed the future of the talks and core issues which needed clarity on both sides, he pointed out.
The demand for a peace zone by the TTP was discussed and he clarified that it was to enable them to attend the meetings more freely. He said discussions were underway to find a suitable place for talks. The last meeting with the TTP shura was held in Orakzai agency and the first one in South Waziristan.
The TTP had submitted a list of non combatants it wants released and as a first step the government released 19 in March. It remains to be seen if the TTP will release some very high profile captives in its custody for long.
The meeting also discussed the TTP's extension of ceasefire till April 10 and other related issues.