Lahore: Pakistan has set free at least six top Taliban militants, including the extremist outfit’s second-in command Mullah Abdul Ghani Barader’s close aide Abdul Qayum Zakir, a report in a magazine has claimed.
According to Newsweek magazine, Zakir, who was nabbed days after Barader was picked up from Karachi, was among the six Taliban commanders who were released by the Pakistani authorities recently.
Zakir was Baradar’s top military commander and one of the Taliban chieftain Mullah Omar’s most effective and most feared commanders during the Taliban’s fight to defeat the resisting Northern Alliance 10 years ago, the magazine said.
It said that several Taliban sources have also confirmed the arrest and his subsequent release.
However, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesman Major General Athar Abbas told said he has no information about the arrest and release of these militant leaders.
The incident has also been confirmed by a US official, who declined to be identified, who said that there was nothing surprising about it.
“It’s not a surprise that in a country where politics is often messy, competing interests are carefully balanced, and relationships are complex, some of those people have been let go,” the official said.
“We know they don’t have a consistent policy that they apply consistently, but that doesn’t mean we can’t work with them. Quite frankly, we have to,” he added.
The report regarding the release of Taliban commanders by Pakistan comes days after The Washington Post reported that US officials believe at least two of the arrested Taliban commanders were released by the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) recently.
U.S. military and intelligence officials said the releases, detected by American spy agencies but not publicly disclosed, are evidence that parts of Pakistan’s security establishment continue to support the Afghan Taliban.