Islamabad:Pakistan will release 12 "low profile suspected militants" from detention as part of confidence-building measures to prepare for the second round of direct peace talks with the banned Taliban. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, who is currently on an official visit to China, has approved release of 12 people from detention, media reports here said. There was no confirmation from the Prime Minister's Office about the report. Last time, his office had denied that he had personally ordered the release of Taliban detainees. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan had announced on April 5 that the government has decided to release up to 13 non-combatant Taliban prisoners as part of goodwill gesture. Just two days before that, the PML-N government had released 19 Taliban non-combatants as a goodwill gesture. The banned group has handed over to government a list of nearly 400 non-combats, seeking their release from custody.
However, it has said that all those released are not on the list handed over to the government. The government, however, has not agreed to the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan's demand of declaring a peace zone in South Waziristan to facilitate their movement. According to the TTP, the peace zone could serve as a possible rendezvous for talks between the two sides. Sources said the talks would again be held at Bulandkhel in Thal district on the border with North Waziristan.
The government has been facing opposition from the army over any move to accept the TTP's demand for the establishment of a "peace zone" outside North Waziristan on the grounds that doing so would send a wrong signal about the gains made so far in other tribal areas which have been cleared of militants. The army had earlier resisted its inclusion in the government's negotiating team. However, later it agreed to assign a mid-ranking officer, though still not officially part of the negotiating team, for what is being described as "institutional support".
A month-long ceasefire that was extended by the TTP for 10 days expired on April 10. The militant group said it would review the situation at its Shura meeting. It has accused the government of violating what it called terms of ceasefire and said that during the truce its men were arrested, tortured and killed by security forces.