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.
Animals found with 'puncture holes the size of a human finger'
Video: The official full-length trailer for the Jurassic Park sequel has dropped – two days early
- 1 Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
- 2 To help fuel their propaganda machine against the poor, our government has now decided to redefine the word 'welfare'
- 3 Black Friday 2014: Opening hours for John Lewis, Asda, PC World, GAME and Argos
- 4 Bill Cosby: Isn’t it obvious why his accusers have stayed silent up until now?
- 5 Jeremy Hunt: 'I took my children to A&E because I didn't want to wait for GP appointment'
Tamir Rice: 12-year-old boy playing with fake gun dies after being shot by Ohio police
Sarah Vine on Jack Monroe being a lesbian mother: 'If she was unsure about her sexuality, she should have taken greater precautions'
Black Friday 2014: Opening hours for John Lewis, Asda, PC World, GAME and Argos
Michael Brown shooting: Ten things we know – or know better – now the Ferguson grand jury's work is over
Ferguson riots: The most powerful images to emerge from protests over Michael Brown killing
Rochester by-election: Ukip gains second MP as Tory defector Mark Reckless holds seat
'Beast of Bolsover' Dennis Skinner takes Ukip MP Mark Reckless to task moments after he is sworn in
Rochester by-election: Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigns after posting white van and England flags tweet
The young are the new poor: Sharp increase in number of under-25s living in poverty, while over-65s are better off than ever
Revealed: How the world gets rich – from privatising British public services
Exclusive: UK approved £7m Israeli arms sales in six months before Gaza conflict
£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An experienced Systems Manager ...
£25000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, VC-funded star...
Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: CHESHIRE MARKET TOWN - An exciting and rare o...
Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...