KABUL - Afghanistan has formally requested Pakistan for the extradition of three Taliban leaders hiding in the neighboring country, official sources said on Tuesday.
The High Peace Council formally conveyed the demand to Pakistani authorities during President Hamid Karzai's two-day trip to Islamabad, a member of the visiting delegation said.
During the visit on Friday and Saturday, the Afghanistan-Pakistan Joint Commission for Reconciliation and Peace held its maiden meeting. While supporting an Afghan-owned reintegration effort, the two sides urged the international community to lend its weight to the process.
The delegate, who did not want to be named, confided to Pajhwok Afghan News that the council urged Pakistan to extradite Mullah Abdul Ghani Biradar, Mullah Turabi, Mullah Abdur Razzaq and other Taliban figures.
Following their arrest by Pakistani forces, the rebel commanders were grilled and found innocent by American investigators, the source said, adding the men no longer posed any threat to the US.
Under strict vigilance of Pakistani authorities, the Taliban leaders are currently living in an area between Islamabad and Rawalpindi, according to the official.
The demand was made after Pakistan stoutly supported the High Peace Council's efforts at wooing Afghan fighters to the negotiating table, said another member of the presidential entourage.
However, he added, Islamabad did not come up with a positive response. He believed Pakistan's acceptance of the extradition demand would lend the reintegration campaign a huge boost.
The Karzai administration was duty-bound to protect the rights of all Afghan citizens in foreign countries, said Prof. Nasrullah Stanikzai, a teacher at Political Science Department of the Kabul University. He hoped Pakistan would release the trio and other insurgent leaders, a move that would help the peace process.
Political analyst and former Afghan diplomat, Ahmad Saeedi, said the extradition of the men, who were arrested in Pakistan two years ago after they agreed to enter peace talks with the government, would help bring peace to the country.
However, Saeedi was pessimistic about handing over the detainees by Pakistan, which always tried to cut deals with the US on such issues. He thought Pakistan could prefer turning in the rebel leaders to the US in order to gain favors.
Mullah Biradar was arrested in Pakistan's port city of Karachi In February 2010. But he was released after a few days, amid claims from the US that Biradar had been arrested in a joint operation.
Pakistani Interior Minister Rahman Malik said at that time Biradar had been detained by Pakistani intelligence operatives and the Americans were not involved.
Although Malik said they would consider the handover of Biradar to Afghan authorities, the rebel leader is yet to be extradited despite several requests from Kabul. (Pajhwok)