Pakistan has released a top Afghan Taliban prisoner, Abdul Ghani Baradar, says a senior official of the Pakistani Interior Ministry. Baradar, who is often described as Taliban militants’ former second-in-command, was freed on Saturday. “Yes Baradar has been released,” Omar Hamid, a spokesman for the interior ministry said, without giving more information on the circumstances of the release. On Friday, Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said that the release of 45-year-old Baradar, also known as Mullah Baradar, would help peace process in Afghanistan.
“In order to further facilitate the Afghan reconciliation process, the detained Taliban leader, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, would be released tomorrow,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.The Afghan government has been calling on Pakistan to release Baradar, who was arrested in the city of Karachi in July 2010. Afghan President Hamid Karzai is seeking to establish direct dialogue between his government and the Taliban in order to restore peace to the country. Pakistan has freed at least 33 other Taliban prisoners since last year at Kabul's request in an effort to boost peace negotiations. “We welcome that this step is being taken,” Karzai’s spokesman Aimal Faizi said. “We believe this will help the Afghan peace process... we are pleased.” The United States and its allies entered the war in Afghanistan in October 2001 as part of the so-called war on terror. The offensive removed the Taliban from power, but after more than 11 years, the foreign troops have still not been able to establish security in the country. MR/HN