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Pakistan facilitated US-Taliban prisoner swap deal: Report

US soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl released by Taliban. He was captured in 2009.
US soldier Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl released by Taliban. He was captured in 2009.

A Pakistan newspaper has reported that Pakistan facilitated US-Taliban prisoner swap deal in Afghanistan.

Islamabad, Jun 2/Nationalturk – Pakistan has reportedly facilitated United States-Taliban prisoner swap deal in Afghanistan.

“Pakistan may not have been directly part of the prisoner swap deal between the Afghan Taliban and the United States but it quietly persuaded the two sides into breaking the deadlock,” Pakistan newspaper, The Express Tribune quoted senior security officials as saying.

A senior security official disclosed to the newspaper that Pakistan helped the two sides establish initial contacts that eventually paved the way for release of US Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl in exchange for five Afghan Taliban detainees from Guantanamo Bay detention centre and shifting them to Qatar.

“We were not part of the final deal but we played our part,” said the official.

‘Pakistan had facilitated Afghan Taliban commanders visit to Qatar’

It is believed that Pakistan had facilitated certain Afghan Taliban commanders, who travelled to Doha, for crucial negotiations with the US to broker a deal on the exchange of prisoners.

The security officials said talks on the prisoners release broke down several times but the deal was finally brokered after Pakistan cautioned both sides through behind the scene contacts that further delay may diminish chances of a peace agreement.

‘Kerry reportedly called PM Nawaz’

Express Tribune quoted official sources as saying that US Secretary of State John Kerry telephoned Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on last Thursday and informed him about the prisoner swap deal with Afghan Taliban.

“Pakistan’s role would only be that of a facilitator. “We will welcome any step that would lead to long term peace and stability in Afghanistan,” Pakistan foreign ministry official told the newspaper.

Pakistani officials hope that prisoners exchange deal may lead to more ‘sustained and direct talks’ between US and the Afghan Taliban.

Pakistan was one of three countries that had recognised Taliban government during Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan.

“US had engaged in talks with the Taliban before, until they were broken off in 2012.  So maybe this will be a new opening that can produce an agreement,” US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel had told NBC’s “Meet the Press”.

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Asia News/ NationalTurk Pakistan News


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