Pakistan frees Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in bid to ease tensions
Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar is the most senior Afghan detainee to be released
Saturday 21 September 2013
The highest-ranking member of the Afghan Taliban jailed in Pakistan has been freed as part of attempts by the new government of Nawaz Sharif to ease tensions with neighbouring Afghanistan and to push forward talks with the insurgent group.
Officials said that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the former deputy to the Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Omar, had been set free. The move came weeks after the Afghan President, Hamid Karzai, asked for Baradar’s release during a visit to Islamabad.
The US had pressured Pakistan not to release Baradar over concerns he would return to the Taliban, but the State Department also wants Afghan authorities to strike a peace deal with the Taliban before its troops withdraw next year.
The Afghan administration welcomed Pakistan’s gesture on Friday. Muhammad Ismail Qasimyar, a member of the Afghan peace council, said he was “hopeful” that Baradar could now “play an important role in the peace process”.
The release of prisoners has been a longstanding demand of Mr Karzai’s government. Over the past two years, Pakistan has released a trickle of junior members, appearing to comply with Kabul’s demands but retaining influence over more senior members. Baradar’s release signals a willingness by the Pakistanis to co-operate more fully with their Afghan counterparts.
As one of the founders of the Afghan Taliban, Baradar is thought to have the clout to persuade the reluctant insurgent group to negotiate with the Afghan government.
But it is far from clear whether his release will alter the fortunes of a virtually non-existent peace process with the Afghan Taliban. Some analysts say that the Afghan Taliban will be suspicious of anyone tainted by their proximity to the Pakistani authorities.
It is also unclear whether Baradar has preserved his influence among the insurgents. If he cannot leverage his seniority within the organisation, or secure his one-time mentor Mullah Omar’s backing for peace talks, the move is likely to swiftly founder.
- 1 Jeremy Clarkson 'sees no problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC
- 2 'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
- 3 Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
- 4 London restaurant 34 creates champagne glass modelled on Kate Moss’ left breast
- 5 ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
'Alien thigh bone' on Mars: Excitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Russell Brand opposes anti-Semitism after death threats: 'We must disavow all forms of prejudice that lead to exclusion and execution'
James Foley 'beheaded': Isis video shows militant with British accent 'execute US journalist' – as hunt begins for killer
ALS ice bucket challenge co-founder Corey Griffin drowns, aged 27
Microbial life found living on the exterior of the International Space Station, say reports
Richard Dawkins on babies with Down Syndrome: 'Abort it and try again – it would be immoral to bring it into the world'
Scottish independence: English people overwhelmingly want Scotland to stay in the UK
Isis threat: Cameron wants an alliance with Iran
Michael Brown shooting: Chaos erupts on the streets of Ferguson after autopsy shows teenager was shot six times – twice in the head
Bin bag full of cats' heads discovered near Manchester's Curry Mile
Disgusting, frustrating, but intriguing: how the country really feels about its politicians
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: SQL Developer (TSQL, S...
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Front-End UI/U...
£30000 - £40000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: C#.NET ...