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Pakistan releases senior Afghan Taliban commander Abdul Ghani Baradar

Islamabad, Sep 21 (): Pakistan has released its most senior Afghan Taliban detainee Abdul Ghani Baradar in a move hailed by Kabul who hope it will boost peace talks with the protestors, a senior official told.

Mullah Baradar is one of the four men who founded the Taliban movement in Afghanistan in 1994. One-time military chief, he was often described as the insurgents’ former second-in-command and was a high-profile imprisoned Taliban commander in Pakistan.

Baradar held several senior positions in the Taliban government before its fall in 2001. He then escaped to Pakistan and for a few years was the military commander of the Taliban as they regrouped to fight a guerilla war.

He was arrested in the southern port city of Karachi, Pakistan, in a secret raid by Pakistani agents and CIA, in an operation that was defined as a huge blow to the Taliban, who ruled Afghanistan until a US-led invasion in 2001.

The Afghan government has long demanded that Islamabad free Baradar, whose arrest in January 2010 saw Pakistan accused of impairing all ways to bring peace in war-torn Afghanistan.

Now, Mullah Baradar has been seen as one of the few senior Taliban figures who has shown a willingness to negotiate.

The foreign ministry on Friday said that the release of Baradar will facilitate the reconciliation process of Afghanistan with the Taliban as a NATO combat mission there winds down.

Mohammad Ismail Qasimyar, a member of the council formed by the Afghan government to talk with the Taliban, praised the release. He said that they were very much hopeful that Mullah Baradar can play an important role in the peace process.

Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil, who served as foreign minister for the Taliban when the group ruled Afghanistan, also greeted the release of Baradar and cautioned Pakistan not to try to control his movements now that he is free.