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Negotiations with Taliban and Shahbaz Taseer

Even though attacks still continue all over Pakistan, and peace still remains a distant dream, negotiations have once again begun between government and Taliban committees. This became possible after Taliban announced unconditional ceasefire, distanced themselves from the latest incidents of terrorism and showed their will to negotiate with the government of Pakistan.

Different proposals have been given by the government committee to fast track the peace process through dialogue and the Taliban have shown a positive response (at least in their press releases, even if not practically).

Media reports say that Taliban are demanding release of some of their accomplices who are in different prisons all over Pakistan on charges of terrorism, murders, extortion etc. Some names of Taliban members, whose release is demanded by Taliban, have also been floating in media.

While I leave it on the state to decide whether it is legally, morally, ethically, religiously viable to release hardcore criminals who have committed serious crimes, I plead Taliban to show a good will gesture and release our innocent civilians who are in their captivity. This will definitely help in moving the dialogue process forward and will be a slap on the face of people who doubt Taliban’s intentions and their sincerity during the dialogue process.

One high profile Pakistani civilian prisoner who is still in Taliban captivity is Shahbaz Taseer.

Shahbaz Taseer, son of late governor Salmaan Taseer, was kidnapped by unidentified men in August 2011 in Lahore's Gulberg area. Punjab government immediately claimed that he was kidnapped for ransom. In September 2011, Punjab Law minister Rana Sanaullah even claimed that the security agencies have traced the kidnappers and ‘good news’ will come soon.  But to date, his whereabouts remain unknown and no demand for ransom has been made.

In March 2012, TTP for the first time made their first public claim of responsibility for kidnapping of Shahbaz Taseer. “Shahbaz Taseer is in good health but he will only be released after our demands are met,” Abu Umar, a deputy to local commander, Wali ur rehman said in a telephone interview from North Waziristan agency. Different news stories have since been floating in media about Shahbaz taseer’s health and whereabouts but there is nothing certain, except for the fact that he is a captive of Taliban.

Shahbaz Taseer is neither a soldier, nor a politician. He is an innocent civilian and keeping him in captivity since 2.5 years is morally, religiously, humanly wrong. His release will not only bring happiness back to his family but will give 180 million Pakistanis assurance that the dialogue process has an actual chance of success.  I therefore plead to Taliban for his release as a ‘good will gesture’ and plead to government to raise this point in their negotiations with Taliban.

I hope and pray that Pakistanis can see peace soon. InshaAllah!! 

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