The government in Pakistan has approved the release of 16 imprisoned members of the Taliban, reports Reuters.
Officials confirmed on Thursday that Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had approved the action in an attempt to reignite the fragile peace process between his government and the militant group. An aide to the prime minister said they believed releasing them would “create goodwill, and we hope [the Taliban] will reciprocate.”
The Pakistani branch of the Taliban had initially agreed to a one-month ceasefire at the beginning of March, but then said earlier this week they would not extend the deal out of concern that the government was not serious about meeting their terms. Islam Zeb, the political agent of the troubled northwestern region of South Waziristan, confirmed the government’s willingness to release non-combatant prisoners as a goodwill gesture.
However the Taliban’s demands include the release of up to 800 prisoners it says are merely family members of insurgents, and the withdrawal of the Pakistani army from semi-autonomous regions close to the border with Afghanistan. Zeb confirmed that another 100 prisoners on the Taliban’s list would be released within the next few days – a sign that Sharif is overriding calls within the Pakistani military for harsher penalties against militant strongholds.
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