ISLAMABAD, (The News): Pakistan on Saturday released its most senior Afghan Taliban detainee, Abdul Ghani Baradar, a senior official of the interior ministry told.
“Yes Baradar has been released,” Omar Hamid, a spokesman for interior ministry said, without elaborating.
Abdul Ghani Baradar, a one-time military chief often described as the insurgents’ former second-in-command, was the most high profile detained Taliban commander in Pakistan.
The foreign ministry on Friday said that Baradar’s release will facilitate Afghanistan’s reconciliation process with the Taliban as a NATO combat mission there winds down.
“In order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, the detained Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would be released tomorrow (Saturday),” the foreign ministry had said in a statement.
The Afghan government has long demanded that Islamabad free Baradar, whose arrest in January 2010 saw Pakistan accused of sabotaging initiatives to bring peace in war-torn Afghanistan.
He was arrested in the port city of Karachi, reportedly in a secret raid by CIA and intelligence agents, in an operation that was described as a huge blow to the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan until a US-led invasion in 2001.
At the time of his arrest Baradar was reported to have been the Taliban’s second-in-command, the right hand man of the Afghan Taliban’s supreme commander Mullah Omar.
He was the most senior member of the Taliban held after US-led troops invaded Afghanistan in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.