Pakistani Foreign Ministry officials have confirmed ongoing meetings with Afghan officials about the possible release of top Taliban officials currently in Pakistani custody, including former second-in-command Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar.
Baradar, also known as Mullah Brother in some reports, was one of the top leaders of the Taliban for years before his capture in 2010, and was seen as a moderate in their leadership. He was the author of a book of rules of engagement for Taliban fighters admonishing the not to allow civilian casualties.
The Afghan government is keen to secure Baradar’s release, apparently believing it will allow them to restart long-stalled peace talks. Baradar was at the head of the faction in the Taliban that sought a negotiated settlement and his capture was openly confirmed at the time to be an effort by Pakistan to sabotage a round of talks after they were excluded from them.
Two and a half years later Pakistan is more interested in the peace process, and Karzai’s government seems at a loss as to who else to talk to. But after so long in custody, it isn’t clear how much pull Baradar would retain if released, and the opportunity to use him to negotiate a truce may have already passed.
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