Pakistan has released Afghan Taliban’s former deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on the intervention of Qatar, a move which could facilitate the peace process in the war-ravaged country, according to a media report on Monday.
Mullah Baradar, one of the four top commanders who formed the Afghan Taliban in 1994, was captured by the Pakistani security agencies in Karachi in 2010. He has been finally released from jail on the solicitation of the government of Qatar, The News reported Monday, citing its sources. Mullah Baradar, who is in his 50s, is believed to be the highest ranking Afghan Taliban prisoner freed so far.
Recently, a high-level delegation of Qatar visited Islamabad and met senior leadership of Pakistan, the paper said.
It did not give any details of his whereabouts after the release. It was also not clear whether he will be handed over to Afghanistan or stay in Pakistan.
It was reported a few times that Mulla Baradar has been released in Pakistan to negotiate with the Afghan Taliban but he couldn’t be freed due to unacceptable conditions imposed by the Afghanistan government, the paper said.
“It is believed that Mulla Baradar’s release would help persuade Afghan Taliban to lay down arms and negotiate in new peace talks,” it added.
In recent months, the Trump administration has increased pressure on Pakistan to limit the freedom of the Taliban leaders, forcing them to join the peace talks.
Recently, senior American diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, tasked with helping find a way to end the war in Afghanistan, has met with Taliban representatives in Doha, Qatar.
In a statement, the Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said early this month six of their representatives met with Khalilzad.
“They talked about the end of occupation and a peaceful resolution for the Afghan issue,” Mujahid said. “Both sides agreed to continue their meetings in the future.”
Mulla Baradar held several senior positions in the Taliban government before its fall in 2001. He was once considered the most influential Taliban leader after Mullah Muhammad Omar.
Born in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, Baradar fought in the war to expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the 1980s. When the Taliban came to power in 1996, Baradar became deputy defence minister.
After the Taliban regime was toppled by the US-led forces in 2001, hundreds of Taliban hardliners fled over the border to Pakistan. Baradar was among them.