Afghan team in Pakistan to meet Mullah Baradar
An Afghan delegation has arrived in Pakistan to meet former Afghan Taliban deputy chief Mullah Baradar, who was recently released by authorities but continues to be under strict surveillance.
Islamabad: An Afghan delegation has arrived in Pakistan to meet former Afghan Taliban deputy chief Mullah Baradar, who was recently released by authorities but continues to be under strict surveillance. The delegation, led by Afghan High Peace Council chairman Syed Salahuddin Rabbani, arrived in Islamabad in a special plane yesterday.
Afghanistan believes Baradar is a key figure for its efforts to kick-start the stalled peace process as NATO combat troops prepare to pull out of the country by the end of 2014.
During a trilateral summit hosted by British Prime Minister David Cameron in London last month, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif accepted Afghan President Hamid Karzai`s proposal to allow members of the High Peace Council to meet Baradar, Express News reported.
The Pakistani Foreign Office had earlier said Kabul had not yet officially contacted Islamabad for the Peace Council’s visit.
The Afghan also team includes High Peace Council secretary Masoom Stanakzai and two officials of its secretariat.
The visit comes a day after reports emerged that the Afghan and US governments had agreed on the draft of a pact that will allow some US troops to remain in Afghanistan after foreign forces pull out.
The Taliban have already rejected any move that allows US troops to stay on in Afghanistan beyond 2014. The visit also comes at a time when Sartaj Aziz, Advisor to the Prime Minister on Foreign Affairs, said that the US had agreed avoid drone attacks on Taliban militants holding talks with the Pakistan government.
Baradar was in the custody of Pakistani security agencies after he was captured in Karachi in 2010. He is the highest ranking Afghan Taliban prisoner freed so far.
Pakistan has released 34 Afghan Taliban leaders to facilitate the reconciliation process in Afghanistan. Baradar was once considered the most influential Taliban leader after Mullah Muhammad Omar.
One of four commanders who founded the Taliban movement, he was responsible for the day-to-day campaign against US and NATO troops until his capture. Afghan officials have said that at the time of his arrest, Baradar was holding talks with the Afghan government.
Pakistani intelligence was angered by his failure to inform them about these talks. The US initially hailed his arrest but found out later that Pakistani intelligence allegedly captured Baradar to scuttle secret peace talks.