Pakistan releases Taliban leaders to help facilitate Afghan reconciliation process


–Taliban commanders released on ‘special request’ made by US, Qatari leadership

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has finally released Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar alias Mullah Baradar and two other Taliban leaders to help facilitate the Afghan peace process being supported by the United States (US) and other friendly countries.

Mullah Mohammad Rasul and Mullah Abdul Samad Sani are the other two key Taliban figures who have been released by Pakistan.

Baradar was the deputy of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the founding leader of Taliban, whose death was confirmed in October 2016. He was apprehended by Pakistani forces from Karachi back in the year 2010.

Mullah Mohammad Rasul is the leader of the High Council of Afghanistan Islamic Emirate, a Taliban group in Afghanistan and was a Taliban-appointed governor of the Nimroz province. Rasul, who refused to pledge allegiance to Taliban’s new leader, Mullah Haibatullah Akhundzada, was detained by Pakistani security personnel in 2016.

Mullah Abdul Samad Sani, on the other hand, was arrested in a Pakistani security agency raid on a madrassa in Quetta in 2016.

The release, which has also been confirmed by a Taliban spokesperson, comes after back-to-back meetings of US Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asian Affairs Ambassador Alice Wells and US Special Envoy for Afghanistan Reconciliation Process Zalmay Khalilzad with the emissaries of Afghan Taliban.

Sources told Pakistan Today that Mullah Baradar and two other Taliban commanders had been released two days back on a “special request” made by the US and Qatari leadership to facilitate the Afghan peace process.

It merits a mention here that a high-level Qatari delegation, led by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani, had visited Islamabad and met the Pakistani leadership.

Mullah Baradar is one of the four men who founded Taliban in Afghanistan back in the year 1994. Baradar held several senior positions in the Taliban government before its fall in 2001.

It is believed that Baradar’s release would help persuade Afghan Taliban to lay down arms and negotiate in new peace talks.


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