Taliban leader Baradar has at the request of the United States for political solution in Afghanistan: Pakistan

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Thursday said the Afghan Taliban's former deputy chief Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was released from jail at the request of the US as part of efforts to pursue a political settlement in war-torn Afghanistan.

"Baradar was released to provide impetus to the peace and reconciliation efforts in Afghanistan. Pakistan will continue to pursue reconciliatory efforts to expedite and facilitate the process to our fullest ability," said Pakistan's Foreign Office spokesperson Mohammad Faisal.

Baradar's release was facilitated by Pakistan at the US request in order to move forward on the shared objective of pursuing a political settlement in Afghanistan, he said.

The Taliban leader was in custody for the last many years after his capture by Pakistani authorities in a search operation.

"This decision was taken following the visit of the US Special Envoy on Afghan Reconciliation, Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad to the region and his meetings with Taliban representatives in Doha," Faisal said.

In recent months, the Trump administration has increased pressure on Pakistan to limit the freedom of Taliban leaders, forcing them to join Afghan peace talks.

Last month, senior American diplomat Khalilzad, tasked with helping find a way to end the war in Afghanistan, met with Taliban representatives in Qatar.

Baradar, one of the four top commanders who formed the Afghan Taliban in 1994, was captured by Pakistani security agencies in Karachi in 2010.

He was finally released from jail on the solicitation of the government of Qatar, a Pakistani media report said last month.

Baradar, who is in his 50s, is believed to be the highest ranking Afghan Taliban prisoner freed so far.

He had held several senior positions in Afghanistan's Taliban government before its fall in 2001. He was once considered the most influential Taliban leader after Mullah Muhammad Omar.

Born in the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, Baradar fought in the war to expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan in the 1980s. When the Taliban came to power in 1996, Baradar became deputy defence minister.

After the Taliban regime was toppled by US-led forces in 2001, hundreds of Taliban hardliners fled over the border to Pakistan. Baradar was among them.

Recently, a high-level delegation from Qatar also visited Islamabad and met the senior Pakistani leadership, the report said.

It did not give any details of Baradar's whereabouts after his release. It was also not clear whether he was handed over to Afghanistan or stayed in Pakistan.

It was reported a few times that Baradar had been released in Pakistan to negotiate with the Afghan Taliban but he could not be freed due to unacceptable conditions imposed by the Afghanistan government, the report said.

Faisal said Pakistan has always been emphasising the need for seeking a negotiated settlement of the Afghan issue with the participation of all stakeholders.

Responding to a question about the proposed peace talks in Moscow on Afghan peace efforts, the spokesperson said a Pakistani delegation led by an additional secretary will attend the dialogue.

He said a trilateral meeting of Pak-China-Afghan foreign ministers will be held in Kabul. "We expect that the meeting can be a step towards lasting peace and stability in Afghanistan," he said.

He also said it was a matter of concern that a recent American report had pointed out that the Afghan administration and foreign military forces are losing control over the security situation in Afghanistan.

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