Pakistan has released from detention a senior Afghan Taliban commander who had been arrested eight years ago, reports say.
The Associated Press quoted intelligence officials as saying on October 24 that Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, the Taliban’s co-founder and former second-in-command, was released after high-level negotiations.
Baradar served as the Taliban’s second-in-command under Mullah Omar and coordinated the group’s military operations in southern Afghanistan before his arrest in the Pakistani city of Karachi in 2010.
Reports said his release could be linked to U.S. efforts to revive peace talks between the militants and the Western-backed government in Kabul.
“He wasn’t released because he was ill,” a Taliban source told the BBC.
“In fact, Pakistan also wants him to play a role in peace talks, the source added. He is in good shape and is expected to play a role in the peace process.”
Afghanistan’s TOLOnews quoted unidentified sources as saying Baradar was released along with two other senior members of the Taliban movement, identified as Mullah Abdul Samad Sani and Mullah Mohammad Rasul.
“Our beloved leaders have joined us back and we are celebrating their freedom,” Reuters news agency quoted a senior member of the Taliban in the southern Afghan province of Helmand.
He said the Taliban leaders were released a week ago but were united with their family on October 24.
Afghan and Pakistani officials have not yet commented on the reports, which came after recent visits to Kabul by U.S. special representative Zalmay Khalilzad to discuss peace talks.
They also followed a visit to Pakistan by the foreign minister of Qatar, where the Taliban have a political office.
Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.