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Pak may release top Afghan commander Baradar

August 09, 2012 01:22 IST

Pakistan may release top Afghan Taliban commander Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar to boost reconciliation efforts with militants in Afghanistan and to play a larger role in the endgame in the neighbouring country.

Baradar, who was captured in Karachi in February 2010, is ranked second in influence to Afghan Taliban chief Mullah Muhammad Omar.

Pakistan has so far resisted Afghanistan's demand for access to Baradar and other key Taliban leaders believed to be in Pakistani custody.

The government is actively considering the release of Baradar to boost Kabul's peace negotiations with the Taliban, The Express Tribune newspaper quoted its sources as saying.

"The proposal is under consideration and modalities are being worked out, such as how and when to release or extradite the Taliban commander," said an official familiar with the development.

The unnamed official claimed certain legal issues were currently hindering Baradar's release.

The Afghan government had sought Baradar's release during Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf's recent visit to Kabul.

The premier was accompanied by ISI chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam.

Though Afghan authorities sought Baradar's extradition, the Pakistani official said the detained Taliban commander was not ready to accept such an arrangement.

"If his release is being sought for the reconciliation process, then we need to work out a mechanism of how it can be done," he said.

US officials believe that in addition to overseeing the Taliban's military operations, Baradar was the head of the so-called Quetta Shura or council that is based in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta.

At the time of his arrest, Baradar was believed to be holding secret peace talks with the Afghan government.

Some reports said Pakistani intelligence agencies ensured Baradar's capture as they were annoyed by his decision keep them out of the loop.

The US too learnt that Baradar had been captured to scuttle the secret peace talks.

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