US gains release of militant leader to help peace process
Taliban co-founder Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar was released on the request of US diplomat Zalmay Khalilzad, a Pakistani official said.
Mr Khalilzad held several meetings this month with stakeholders to try to resolve the Afghanistan conflict.
A breakthrough of his visit came when the Taliban agreed to hold further talks with the US.
“The release of Mullah Baradar was made on the request of Zalmay Khalilzad, who is more serious about resolving the Afghan conflict at the earliest,” a senior Pakistani intelligence official told The National.
“He needs concrete results as Washington is desperately seeking result-oriented negotiations.”
“The improving realisation between Islamabad and Washington is to keep all the options open for achieving peace in Afghanistan,” the official said.
“Pakistan wants peace no matter what possible channels are subscribed and ultimately it’s in the interest of Pakistan.”
The US State Department did not comment last night.
After Mr Khalilzad met the Taliban on October 12, both parties asked Pakistan for Baradar’s release.
Mr Khan sees peace talks with the Taliban as the only viable solution to end the war in Afghanistan.
On Sunday, the Pakistani Embassy in Kabul announced Baradar’s release.
“Baradar’s release would help enhance the American peace process and it’s a positive sign,” a Taliban official in Doha said.
At the time of his arrest in 2010, Baradar was seeking peace talks with Washington without Islamabad’s consent, a former Pakistani intelligence official told The National.
“He was arrested because he neglected Islamabad in the deal during that time,” the former official said.
Michael Kugelman, a senior associate at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars in Washington, said: “Baradar’s release was clearly intended to kick-start efforts to launch a peace process with the Taliban.
“He’s a prominent Taliban figure that can make things happen and convince the organisation to stop fighting, but the importance of this move shouldn’t be overstated.
“It’s unclear how much influence Baradar still has within the Taliban organisation given that he’s been in prison for nearly a decade.”