It seems that President Karzai’s recent visit to Islamabad proved fruitful, as evidenced by the release of seven Afghan Taliban prisoners from Pakistani jails on Saturday. Although the list that the Afghan president handed to Nawaz was much longer, the point of note is that the first step in the Karzai formulated Afghan reconciliation process has been taken, and the Pakistan government can be attributed as a catalyst in encouraging the dialogue.

Pakistan released key militants last November as well, in a bid to initiate the reconciliation progress that the NATO forces require to ensure a safe withdrawal, and that is essential for a negotiated peace in the region after foreign troops leave. The militants last freed disappeared in Pakistan, and remain here. There has been no evidence to confirm that they chose to return to Afghanistan, even after the Karzai government's lobbying for their incarceration to end. In Pakistan, their influence has not been benign, and is a source of constant concern, with militant influences coalescing and growing ever more powerful.

Now that seven more prisoners have been given their freedom, with no reported guarantees to ensure they return to Afghanistan, one can only wonder why there are no questions being raised about their ultimate destination. Our neighbours would surely prefer their extradition directly to Afghanistan, given the fact that they would not have to resort to relying on the goodwill of the prisoners to return to initiate dialogue, with a government they see as a puppet controlled by the US.

Another mystifying issue is how Pakistan has been historically so adept at catching and incarcerating so many Afghan Taliban terrorists, but is completely aloof with regards to the location of various TTP leaders that are a constant threat to the security of this country. Maybe if they tried hard enough and caught some of those elements involved in the war on this side of the border, having a few bargaining chips in hand would give the government the upper hand in initiating the dialogue process it has shown such a stubborn insistence to pursue. As it stands, the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan will embolden their sympathisers waging war against Pakistan. With the chances of the Taliban coming to a power-sharing understanding in Kabul increasing -- it appears, with Pakistan's active help -- we must consider what this will mean for our own security. Peace and stability in Afghanistan is greatly to be desired. A Taliban stronghold, encouraging mayhem in Pakistan, is not.