Pakistan has agreed in talks with Afghan peace negotiators to free several Afghan Taliban prisoners, officials from both countries said on Wednesday, the clearest sign that Pakistan will put its weight behind Afghan reconciliation efforts.
"We aren't too certain whether they can play an important role in peace negotiations but it is a positive gesture from Pakistan in helping peace efforts," an Afghan official told Reuters.
A senior Pakistani army official said it had not yet been decided if the former Afghan Taliban second in command, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would be released.
Afghan officials have identified him as a figure who may still have the influence to persuade the Taliban to pursue peace after more than a decade of fighting U.S.-led NATO and Afghan forces.
The decision to release the prisoners was a major step for Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which is on a visit to Islamabad to push for Taliban releases and has been struggling to ease mistrust between the Taliban and the Kabul government.