Taliban freed by Pakistan pose new dangers for NATO, Afghan troops
KABUL, Afghanistan — Pakistan's release late last year of several imprisoned Taliban officials and fighters, which it advertised as a good-faith effort to help bring peace to Afghanistan, is now prompting questions about whether the gesture has yielded anything but potential new dangers for NATO and Afghan troops.
American, Afghan and Pakistani officials say they believe some of the freed Islamist movement members have rejoined their colleagues waging war against Western troops and the coalition-backed government of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
With its long-standing links to Afghan Taliban insurgents, Pakistan has a vital role in nudging them to the table as the United States winds down its involvement in the 11-year war in Afghanistan. But Pakistan's handling of the prisoner release once again subverted the trust of the Afghans, who were supposed to receive the captives and keep tabs on them to lower the risk of any returning to terrorist havens in Pakistan.
The whereabouts and even the number of ex-prisoners have remained murky since their release in two batches in mid-November and late December by Pakistan's powerful spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, as part of a road map drawn up by the Afghan High Peace Council to build the confidence of the militants.
Despite an earlier agreement, the ISI failed to consult with the council when it set many of the captives free. On Friday, however, the Pakistani government pledged to coordinate future Taliban releases with the council, in a belated admission that it had blindsided the Afghans.
The U.S. military is keenly interested in the former captives' whereabouts and is trying to track down any who have returned to Afghanistan bent on jihad — or, alternately, it wants to identify those participating in the reconciliation process so they won't be targeted.
“It's all a black hole,” said one U.S. official last week, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
A Pakistani security official confirmed that 18 men were freed and described them as junior to midlevel members of the Islamic movement, including field commanders and foot soldiers.
“Some have gone back to their old ways, with their old friends,” said the official, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Luxury Libyan hotel attacked by terrorists
- Jewish leaders fear another Auschwitz
- 14 officers in China who allegedly ate salamander, beat reporters taken off job
- Russia sets plan to boost credit rating
- Obama ‘pays respects’ to late Saudi Arabian monarch
- Gunmen storm Libya hotel, killing American, 9 others
- Release terrorist, or 2 will be killed, ISIS vows
- Ex-Russian spy Litvinenko poisoned twice, lawyer says
- Leaders mark Auschwitz liberation 70 years on without Putin
- Islamic State group pushed out of Syria’s Kobani
- Islamic State forces chased from Syrian Kurdish city