ISLAMABAD: Pakistan will release top Taliban prisoner Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar on Saturday, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
In order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, the detained Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would be released tomorrow (21 September 2013), said a press release issued by the Foreign Office.
Pakistan’s top official on foreign affairs and national security, earlier in the month had said that Baradar could be released as soon as this month.
“In principle, we have agreed to release him. The timing is being discussed. It should be very soon … I think within this month,” said Sartaj Aziz, advisor on foreign affairs and national security to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
“Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar will be freed into Pakistan and he will remain in the country until he decides himself to move anywhere he deems necessary to initiate the peace process,” he told Dawn.com on Monday.
Aziz, however, added that the former Taliban second-in-command will not be handed over to Afghanistan. “Handing over the key Taliban commander to Afghanistan will sabotage the purpose behind the decision of releasing him,” he said.
Baradar is one of the four men who founded the Taliban movement in 1994, and is believed to be a close aide and one of the most trusted commanders of Mullah Mohammad Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban. He was captured from the port city of Karachi in February, 2010.
Kabul welcomes announcement – AFP
Meanwhile, the Afghan government has welcomed Pakistan’s announcement regarding release of Abdul Ghani Baradar, saying the move would help peace efforts after 12 years of war.
“We welcome that this step is being taken,” Aimal Faizi, spokesman for Afghan president Hamid Karzai told AFP.
“We believe this will help the Afghan peace process. This is something we have been calling for a long time. It was on the agenda when the president visited Pakistan, so we are pleased.”
Karzai made a two-day trip to Pakistan last month in a bid to overcome a series of public rows that have hampered efforts to end the war in Afghanistan as US-led Nato combat troops withdraw.
During the visit, the Afghan president urged Pakistan to help arrange peace talks between his government and the Taliban.
Elements of the Pakistani state are widely accused of funding, controlling and sheltering the Taliban, but Islamabad says it will do anything to stop the fighting in Afghanistan.