But have they given up the jihad? Of course not. From AFP, with thanks to Ali Dashti:
KABUL (AFP) – The release of some 80 prisoners from US custody in Afghanistan heralds an intensified effort to bring former fighters from the Taliban militia back into mainstream society, officials said.
The move could propel a wider amnesty offer aimed at Taliban foot soldiers, some of whom have waged an insurgency from the hills and caves of Afghanistan since the Islamic regime was ousted by a US-led operation in late 2001.
Chief justice Fazel Hadi Shinwari said negotiations with militants from the fundamentalist movement were continuing and some more moderate Taliban were eyeing the olive branch.
“One category of Taliban want to come back and they have contacted us and the government… and the government is providing them the opportunity to come back,” Shinwari said after the detainees were freed by the US military from Bagram air base near Kabul on Sunday before the Muslim festival of Eid.
A remaining hard core of fighters, estimated by government officials to number around 100 and “whose hands are stained with blood, are not eligible for the talks and the government will not reconcile with them,” Shinwari said.
Speaking to reporters at the Supreme Court on Sunday, he said the release of prisoners has been instrumental in ongoing talks.
“One prisoner whose name is Mullah Qalamuddin, who was a commander of Taliban from Logar province, was released and then he went to Taliban and came back to us with the idea of reconciliation. There are contacts with the government,” Shinwari said, adding that the government was negotiating for the release of more prisoners.
However, a purported Taliban spokesman disagreed. “There hasn’t been any contact between the Taliban and the government,” Abdul Latif Hakimi told AFP by telephone from an unknown location.