Pakistan releases top Afghan Taleban prisoner

Pakistan released its highest-ranking Afghan Taleban prisoner on Saturday in an effort to jump-start Afghanistan’s struggling peace process, Pakistani officials said.

By (AP)

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Published: Sat 21 Sep 2013, 4:58 PM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 4:44 PM

The Afghan government has long demanded that Pakistan free Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taleban’s former deputy leader who was arrested in a joint raid with the CIA in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010.
Pakistani intelligence and security officials confirmed that he left detention Saturday but did not provide any details, including where he was held. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry announced earlier that Baradar would be released Saturday “to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process,” but also didn’t provide any details.

Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, a member of the council tasked by the Afghan government to negotiate with the Taleban, praised Baradar’s release, saying “we are very much hopeful that Mullah Baradar can play an important role in the peace process.”

Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, who served as foreign minister for the Taleban when the group ruled Afghanistan, also hailed Bardar’s release and cautioned Pakistan not to try to control his movements now that he is free.

“They also have to allow him contact with Taleban leaders and for him to be useful for peace in Afghanistan,” Muttawakil told The Associated Press.

Pakistan has released at least 33 Taleban prisoners over the last year at the Afghan government’s request in an attempt to boost peace negotiations between the insurgents and Kabul.

But there is no sign that the previous releases have helped peace talks, and some of the prisoners are believed to have returned to the fight against the Afghan government. The US was reluctant to see Baradar released, believing he would also return to the battlefield.

Afghanistan has in the past called on Pakistan to release Taleban prisoners into its custody. But they have instead been set free in Pakistan, and it was likely the same would happen with Baradar.

Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Janan Mosazai has said Baradar must be “accessible, secure and with a known address” if he remains in Pakistan.

The circumstances surrounding Baradar’s arrest in Karachi were murky. Afghan officials said at the time that he was holding secret peace talks with the Afghan government and accused Pakistan of arresting him to sabotage or gain control of the process.



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