Pakistan, Afghanistan reach deal on Mullah Baradar
Islamabad: Pakistan and Afghanistan have reached a deal for the release of senior Taliban leaders, including the outfit's former deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, according to Afghan official sources.
The sources said that although the agreement has not been made public, Afghan Foreign Minister Dr Zalmai Rassoul and his Pakistani counterpart discussed in details the pros and cons of releasing the Taliban leaders and agreed that all the leaders, including Baradar who was a former Taliban military chief and was arrested in Karachi in 2010, would be released at the right time, reports the Daily Times.
Pakistan and Afghanistan have already activated a joint commission on the prisoners' release. A senior Afghan official said President Hamid Karzai is planning a visit to Pakistan to finalise all matters. Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar has on several occasions said that a stable, united and peaceful Afghanistan is in national interest of Pakistan. The same message was conveyed to the Afghan delegation that visited Pakistan under the leadership of the Afghan foreign minister last month.
Afghan officials have publicly been demanding access to Baradar, who was the main day-to-day commander responsible for leading the Taliban campaign against US and NATO troops, plotting suicide bombings and other attacks.
He was the right-hand man to reclusive Taliban leader Mullah Omar, who gave him the nickname Baradar (brother), providing him with great influence and prestige in Taliban circles. Afghan officials hope Baradar could play a key role in any negotiations to end the war, acting as a go-between with Taliban leaders, including Omar.
Afghan and US officials have publicly acknowledged little success in efforts to re-start peace talks, which the Taliban suspended after accusing the US officials of failing to honour confidence-building promises.