Taliban not a terrorist group, White House deputy press secretary says

White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz argued during Wednesday’s briefing that the United States can negotiate prisoner swaps with Taliban members, because the Taliban is not considered a terrorist group.

ABC News reporter John Karl asked the press briefing rookie whether the Jordanian government’s trade with the Islamic State was similar to the United States trading five Taliban members for Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the Washington Free Beacon reported.

“As you know, this was highly discussed at the time and prisoner swaps are a traditional end-of-conflict interaction that happens,” Mr. Schultz said….

“Isn’t that what the Jordanians are operating under?” the ABC reporter argued. “The Taliban are still conducting terror attacks, so you can’t really say the war has ended as far as they’re concerned.”

Mr. Schultz explained: “I would also point out that the Taliban is an armed insurgency. [The Islamic State] is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups.”

By Jessica Chasmar – The Washington Times –

Pakistan Mother’s Death Sentence Sparks Outrage In Europe, Churches

By Stefan Bos – ReligiousFreedomCoalition.org –

Two leading Christian legislators in the European Parliament (EP) have urged the European Union and Pope Francis to help free a Christian mother, whose death sentence for “blasphemy” was upheld by a Pakistani court.

Asia Bibi, 50, had appealed before the Lahore High Court against the ruling in which she was found guilty of insulting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, but the court rejected her appeal Thursday, October 19….

Bibi was detained in 2009 after she reportedly told Muslim co-workers that Jesus Christ is alive after He “sacrificed His life on the cross for our sins.” She reportedly made the remarks while working in the fields for a Muslim landowner. Besides “insulting Prophet Muhammad” she was accused “of contaminating” (drinking from)the well by Muslims. Bibi has denied wrongdoing.

….Parliamentarians Peter van Dalen and Bas Belder of the EP’s Christian oriented ‘ChristenUnie-SGP’ faction told BosNewsLife that they would ask the EP’s president, the EU’s foreign policy chief, the European Commission president and the pope “to do more to free Asia Bibi.”

They plan to make their appeal in writing and in Parliament.

“I am saddened and condemn this cowardly decision by Pakistani judges,” Van Dalen said. “It’s terrible that they did not find courage to acquit this young wife and mother of five children. Asia Bibi is innocent. She is already spending five years on death row, and must be freed now.”

Belder said Pakistani judges “bowed to pressure from the Islamists as they fear for their own life.” It shows, he added, “that Pakistani blasphemy laws have become a deadly trap for innocent people.”

Bibi’s lawyer, Sardar Mushtaq, told reporters he would continue his legal battle for the married mother of five.

Bibi’s case drew global criticism in 2011 when Pakistan’s minister for minorities Shahbaz Bhatti and eastern Punjab governor Salman Taseer were killed for supporting her and opposing blasphemy laws. Taseer was killed in the capital Islamabad by one of his police guards after visiting Bibi in jail.

Bhatti was killed months later by the Pakistani Taliban group, who called him an “infidel Christian.”

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